Pakistan, Bangladesh battle for pride

Dambulla: Out of contention for the finals, Pakistan and Bangladesh will aim to sign off on a positive note when they clash in an inconsequential preliminary match of the Asia Cup ODI cricket tournament here on Monday.

Shahid Afridi made it clear that Pakistan would rest senior players like Shoaib Akthar and Abdul Razzaq to allow the youngsters in the side to gain experience and confidence.

“We want Akthar to be part of the 2011 World Cup team. So we will conserve through the rest of the year and ensure that he stays fit for the big event. We will rest him along with some senior players for tomorrow`s match against Bangladesh,” said Afridi.

The Pakistan captain wasn`t happy with the performance of the youngsters.

“I am not happy with the way Umar Amin and other youngsters have performed. They will have to improve. They can only do that through experience. It will be a good opportunity for them to make some runs on Monday” he said.

While Pakistan seek to blood their younger lot, Bangladesh will be looking to sort out their middle order batting woes against spin bowling.

Though the openers, Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes have provided good starts, the middle order has performed miserably, falling time and again to spinners.

Coach Jamie Siddons was frustrated with the performance of the middle order batters.

“It is a frustrating thing. We play spin all the time at home and that is what we pride ourselves on. But our batsmen have struggled when the ball spins. Whether it is part-time or world-class spinners, we struggle.

“We struggled in England when (Graeme) Swann spun the ball. Vettori always troubles us when it is spinning. But we are fine when the ball is not spinning. As soon as it turns a little we have problems. It could be due to lack of footwork or poor decision-making,”said Siddons.

He said Ashraful`s form had been a let down for Bangladesh.

“Ashraful is out of form for a while. But he is not on his own. A lot of other players have let us down in the last two-three games,” said Siddons.

But Siddons saw a positive in Shafiul Islam`s performance with the ball.

“I think the way Shafiul Islam bowled was really positive. He is one that keeps standing up for us whether it is Test match cricket, ODI or Twenty20. He is exciting for me.

He puts the ball in the right areas which makes it easy for Shakib Al Hasan to set the field for him.”

The Bangladesh middle order would have to turn the corner, else they will suffer their third successive defeat in the tournament against Pakistan, who are seething from their
three-wicket loss to arch-rivals India.



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