Bangladesh wary of depleted Pakistan

Published: Monday, April 7, 2008, 10:48 [IST]
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Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful said his team will have to be at the top of their game to beat troubled Pakistan in the one-day series starting Tuesday.

Pakistan arranged the five-match series with Bangladesh at short notice after Australia postponed their tour to the country over security fears.

The hosts are without their two frontline fast bowlers, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, and will be forced to rely on a new-look bowling attack.

Akhtar was last week handed a five-year ban by Pakistan's cricket authorities for repeated breaches of discipline, while Asif is recovering from elbow surgery and is not in the squad announced for the first two matches.

"Akhtar has not played for Pakistan in the last few series but I think Pakistan still have quality bowlers, so we will have to be at our best to beat them," Ashraful told a news conference.

Bangladesh arrived here early Sunday morning and flew to Lahore for the series opener.

Bangladesh, who have won 39 of 172 one-day matches since making their debut on the international stage in 1986, have beaten Pakistan only once -- in the 1999 World Cup held in England.

Ashraful's team were whitewashed 3-0 by South Africa last month before Bangladesh won all three matches against Ireland -- momentum the captain hopes to carry forward.

"We are a young side and hope to prove that we are not an inconsistent side. To do well in Pakistan would be a challenge for my team," said Ashraful, who replaced Habib-ul Bashar as captain last year.

Bangladesh's Australian coach Jamie Siddons said his team will have to stick to their plans.

"Pakistan are fifth in rankings and we are on ninth, so we have to stick to plans to overcome that gap regardless who plays for Pakistan and who doesn't and take advantage whenever Pakistan slips," said Siddons, who played his only one-day international for Australia in Pakistan in 1988.

"This team has young players and it can beat the best side in the world on their day but can lose to a mediocre side, so I look for consistency," said Siddons, who took over as coach last year.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik refused to take Bangladesh lightly.

"We know they can be dangerous so we will not take them lightly and play at our best to win all the matches. This doesn't mean I am claiming to sweep them. We will try to achieve that with good work," said Malik.

The remaining matches will be played in Faisalabad (April 11), Lahore (April 13), Multan (April 16) and Karachi (April 19)

A Twenty20 match will be held in Karachi on April 20.

Teams (from):

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanveer, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz, Fawad Alam, Bazid Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed.

Bangladesh: Mohammad Ashraful (captain), Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Aftab Ahmed, Nazim Uddin, Shahriar Nafees, Shakib Al Hasan, Dhiman Ghosh, Abdur Razzak, Mahmudullah Riad, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel, Farhad Reza, Roqibul Hassan.

Match referee: Mike Procter (RSA)

Umpires: Steve Bucknor (WIS), Aleem Dar (PAK)

TV umpire: Zameer Haider (PAK)

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