Bangladesh suffered a major blow in their virtual Asia Cup semifinal against Pakistan as ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was ruled out of the match with a flare-up of his longstanding left little finger injury. Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza won the toss and chose to field first, with a total of three changes to the line-up.
His participation in the ongoing Asia Cup was in doubt until it was decided that he would possibly go for a surgery before the home series against Zimbabwe next month. Shakib went for a scan on his finger on Monday, which the team management called a routine check. But on the eve of the match, team manager Khaled Mahmud said that he was 50-50 for the match against Pakistan. Mominul Haque has come in in place of Shakib.
This will be a do or die match for both teams, with the winners to take on India in the Asia Cup final in Dubai on Friday.
Heat and injuries have forced Bangladesh to make changes in every match they have played. For this match the team management have benched the two rookies in left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam Apu and opener Nazmul Hossain Shanto, bringing in pacer Rubel Hossain and opener Soumya Sarkar in their place.
Shanto made his debut last Thursday in the last Group B match against Afghanistan, replacing Tamim Iqbal who was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured left hand. He was given a run of three matches to prove himself but after scores of 7, 7, and 6 he has been dropped for this match. Soumya, flown in as emergency reinforcement on Saturday night along with fellow national discard Imrul Kayes, will play his first ODI since October 2017.
Apu made his debut in the last match against Afghanistan on Sunday and although he was much more successful than his namesake, bowling eight tight overs for 29 runs in Bangladesh's narrow three-run win, he makes way for the pace of Rubel. It is understood that Apu's selection in the last game was a horses-for-courses call, as the team wanted a left-arm spinner to bowl at Afghanistan's top order. With Pakistan being much more proficient players of spin, it was felt that Rubel would be a better option.
Imrul was played in the first match, even though he landed in Dubai around 17 hours before the start of the match. The team took the unprecedented move of batting the left-handed Imrul -- who had not batted lower than number three in 70 previous matches -- at number six to counter the leg-spin threat of Afghanistan's Rashid Khan, and it worked a charm as he saved Bangladesh from 87 for five with a sixth-wicket stand of 128 with Mahmudullah Riyad. He is expected to continue in that position in today's match as Pakistan have leg-spinner Shadab Khan in their ranks.
Bangladesh: Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (captain), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Fakhar Zaman, Imam Ul Haq, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi