LAHORE (92 News) – Pakistan will take on Bangladesh in the first T20 International at Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.
Foolproof security arrangements have been made on the occasion.
On Thursday, both teams had practice sessions. Captains of both teams unveiled the series trophy and had a photo session afterwards.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said that the real challenge to maintain the No 1 position. “It is great honour to lead the team on the home ground. Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez have returned on his wish,” he said.
Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said that fans will have an opportunity to watch a good game. “There is no problem with security. Our focus will be on the game,” he said.
Pakistan won only a solitary T20I in 2019, losing each of their eight other completed games, including a 3-0 whitewash against a depleted Sri Lankan side at home in October. The management was moved to make wholesome changes after that series, axing Sarfraz Ahmed and appointing Babar Azam as the captain.
Azam's first series at the helm – in Australia – was an unenviable initiation as his side suffered two big defeats. Now back in the comfort of home against a side facing their own challenges, he will want to stamp his authority.
He has a promising young side to work with, including four uncapped players – Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt, Usman Qadir and Haris Rauf. Of those Pakistan will perhaps be most eager to give Rauf a cap after he dazzled in the Big Bash League, demonstrating his sharp pace and accuracy while picking up 16 wickets from just seven matches for Melbourne Stars, including a hat-trick.
Also back in the side are seniors like Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, who were dropped for the Australia series. Pakistan will hope for them to lend more solidity to a mercurial batting line-up.
Bangladesh showed some spark against a young Indian side in their most recent assignment, in November 2019, registering their first ever win against the opposition, but lost the series after successive defeats. They will be happy to welcome Tamim Iqbal, their leading-run scorer across formats, who is back into the fold after a break, and adds great value to the team with his experience.
Younger players like Mohammad Naim – who was the leading run-scorer in that India series with 143 runs from three knocks – and Afif Hossain have exhibited tremendous potential in their short careers so far, and Bangladesh will know that if they click, they will be in with a strong chance.