Dhaka: An overworked India and a Pakistan desperate for action take part in a limited-overs tri-series in Bangladesh from Sunday to prepare for sterner tests ahead.
The four-match series under lights at the Mirpur stadium on the outskirts of Dhaka will serve as a warm-up for the Asia Cup later this month and the Champions Trophy in September.
Both 50-overs-a-side tournaments will be held in Pakistan, marking the return of serious cricket to that country after Australia cancelled a scheduled Test tour in March due to security concerns.
Pakistan have played just two one-day series at home this year, blanking minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh by identical 5-0 margins, and can't wait to flex their muscles again.
"We look forward to the series in Bangladesh because it will help us get into the groove for the Asia Cup at home," said Pakistan's Australian coach Geoff Lawson. "The boys are desperate to play good cricket again."
India, in contrast, have been on the road for the past 13 months and begin the tri-series less than a fortnight after a gruelling 45-day Indian Premier League.
There will be no respite for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men until next March, with Test tours to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, home series against Australia and England and the Asia Cup and Champions Trophy to play.
"There has been a lot of cricket for us but that is the life of a modern sportsman," said Dhoni. "Motivation is never a problem when playing for India. The key is to stay fit and pace ourselves."
The Dhaka contests will be India's first limited-overs outing since scoring a stunning 2-0 win over World Cup champions Australia in the tri-series finals in Sydney and Brisbane in March.
India will be without one-day cricket's most successful batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, who opted out to recover from a groin injury in time for the Test and one-day tour of Sri Lanka from mid-July.
Pakistan, already missing banned fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, suffered another blow when fellow seamer Mohammad Asif was detained at Dubai airport this week on allegations of possessing illegal drugs.
Asif, one of cricket's most promising seamers, was replaced for the Dhaka tournament by rookie fast bowler Sohail Khan.
Mohammad Ashraful's Bangladesh gets a chance to regain the form that helped them beat India and South Africa during the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.
The home side have lost 19 of their last 22 one-dayers, the three wins coming at home against unfancied Ireland in March.