Bangladesh and Pakistan meet in the eighth match of the Asia Cup qualifying Pool at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur on Wednesday.
A win for the host nation, Bangladesh, will take them to the brink of the final, as it would take them to six points from their four matches. Only an unlikely set of results in the other remaining Pool matches would be able to prevent them from claiming a place in the Grand Final for only the second time in the history of the tournament.
While defeat for Bangladesh wouldn’t see their elimination confirmed for certain, it would leave them with just two wins, and that would be unlikely to be enough to see them through. However, defeat for Pakistan would certainly see them eliminated, whatever the outcome of their final match against Sri Lanka.
Whatever Bangladesh’s future is in the tournament, they will have to cope without fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman, who will miss the rest of the competition with a side strain that he picked up during the 23-run victory over Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Tamim Iqbal, who has been on paternity leave has been called into the squad to replace the injured player. A previous shoulder injury, suffered during the series against Zimbabwe in January had caused Mustafizur to miss the Pakistan Super League, which concluded just before the start of the Asia Cup.
For a period on Monday, Pakistan looked as if they may have been heading for an early exit from the tournament, as they look as if they could slip to a major surprise defeat at the hands of the minnows from the UAE.
With Mohammad Amir once more to the fore, the UAE were on the ropes at 12-3. However, Pakistan’s decision to introduce spin soon after the end of the powerplay, allowed them to ease themselves back into the game. Shaiman Anwar played patiently for 46 of off of 42 balls, and the minnows reached 129-6.
In reply, Pakistan’s top three in the order were all back in the hut inside four overs, and at 17-3 were in very real danger of suffering an embarrassing loss.
Fortunately, the experienced Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal came together, and realising that if they were to bide their time, the ball would swing less, and they could bring their experience to ear. Both completed half centuries as they eased their side over the finish line with eight balls to spare.