Kolkata: Eden Gardens is less than 250 kilometres as the crow flies from the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, but the distance is a lot more in the context of current cricket contests. As Pakistan and Bangladesh brace for battle in their Super 10 opener at the World T20, memories of Mirpur have lost much of their relevance.
B'desh captain Mashrafe Mortaza during a practice session in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI
The three warm-up matches at the Eden over the past few days have, rather expectedly, driven home the reality. It's another place, another time. And, perhaps, time for Pakistan to put the 'qualifier' in place following the loss to the Asia Cup hosts.
The seaming conditions in Mirpur have made way for more docile 'decks', on which styles and strategies will have to shift. That message was so emphatically conveyed on Monday as pacer Mohammad Amir lost his sting in the warm-up against Sri Lanka and Pakistan had to be powered by left-arm spinner Imad Wasim.
Bangladesh too will want Shakib Al Hasan to come to the party. The top all-rounder, who plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders, knows the slow pitches of Eden better than most.
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis reminded that, despite the conditions, "our strength lay in pace". With Mohammad Sami yet to recover from foot injury, it is all but certain that the three left-arm pacers — Amir, Mohammed Irfan and Wahab Riaz — will play.
Bangladesh too have come to rely a great deal on their pacers but have fingers crossed over a couple of them. Right-arm fast bowler Taskin Ahmed underwent tests yesterday after being reported for suspect action while Mustafizur Rahman is down with injury.
Bangladesh have generated good momentum with dominant performances to book a berth in the Super 10, and will be lifted by the form of Tamim Iqbal, who scored a century against Oman on Sunday.
Pakistan's batting continues to look brittle, and they need to lift themselves before the sterners tests. One of them comes up on Saturday. Victory today would be the best 'warm-up' before the clash with arch-rivals India.
Shahid Afridi Pakistan
> He gets back to form
> Pacer Mohammad Amir takes early wickets
> Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal score big
Mashrafe Mortaza Bangladesh
> Pacer Mustafizur Rahman is fit
> Opener Tamim Iqbal continues his good form
> Shakib Al Hasan provides an all-round show