Pakistan’s dip in T20I form was a cause for concern, but they have shown signs of being dominant again with back-to-back wins over Bangladesh at home, the wins giving them an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. The final game could be an opportunity to try out some new faces, but they would certainly want to make a statement with a series sweep.
Not much has gone wrong for the home side in this series. They restricted Bangladesh to scores of 141 and 136 in the two matches, and then chased the targets down comfortably enough. The Lahore pitch hasn’t allowed for much flamboyance so far, but that shouldn’t bother a side that had lost eight out of their last ten T20Is before this series.
Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have made an impact with one good innings each, while Babar Azam led from the front in the second game. Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain bowled well in both games, while Shadab Khan has mostly been on the mark. Newcomers Ahsan Ali and Haris Rauf have shown glimpses of their ability too.
Bangladesh, though, look unsure of how to go about handling Pakistan’s bowling attack. It’s not so much a lack of skills, but with roles not being defined clearly enough – there are six opening batsmen in the squad – it hasn’t been straightforward for captain Mahmudullah and coach Russell Domingo.
Their bowling, too, hasn’t come to the party, with senior quick Mustafizur Rahman guilty of erring in lines and lengths in the first two games. Their lack of a genuine spinner has also added to the lack of balance, as Bangladesh are a team that has always banked on spinners to do a lot of the work, even in T20Is.
Last five completed matches, most recent first
In the spotlight
Babar Azam is the No. 1 T20I batsman in the world, and bounced back from a duck in the first game with an an unbeaten 66 in the second. Pakistan would want him to have another good game as they look for the whitewash.
Mustafizur Rahman has taken just one wicket for 69 runs in the seven overs he has bowled in the two matches. His areas have been off on a slow pitch that the ball has at times gripped on, exactly where he is expected to be most effective. He needs to get it right in the final game.
There’s a strong chance that Amad Butt and Usman Qadir will get their international debuts.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Ahsan Ali, 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Iftikhar Ahmed, 6 Imad Wasim/Amad Butt, 7 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Haris Rauf/Usman Qadir, 10 Shaheen Afridi 11 Mohammad Hasnain
Domingo has said that Bangladesh will find space to field Najmul Hossain Shanto, Rubel Hossain and newcomer Hasan Mahmud.
Bangladesh (possible): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Liton Das (wk), 3 Mahedi Hasan, 4 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 5 Afif Hossain, 6 Mahmudullah (capt), 7 Soumya Sarkar, 8 Aminul Islam, 9 Shafiul Islam/Rubel Hossain, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Al-Amin Hossain/Hasan Mahmud
Pitch and conditions
The Gaddafi Stadium pitch has been difficult to score quickly on, though Pakistan did go past Bangladesh’s 136 for 6 with 20 balls to spare in the second game. The weather forecast isn’t great, as there’s a chance of rain.
Stats and trivia
With the late Abdul Qadir’s son Usman likely to make his debut in the third T20I, we will have an addition to the list of fathers and sons playing international cricket for Pakistan
In the last five years, Mahmudullah is the only Bangladesh batsman to have hit more than ten sixes in the last five overs of their innings in T20Is
“I need to give everyone opportunity. We are 2-0 down in the series. The three boys who haven’t played will definitely come in and have a game, so that we can look at a few more options.”
Russell Domingo on the playing XI in the third T20I