Tigers ready for Scottish hurdle
The reason Bangladesh are playing the qualifying round of the ICC T20 World Cup this time around can be explained by the Tigers' below-par record in the shortest format of the game over the years. So, it is imperative that Bangladesh begin their World Cup campaign on a positive note when they meet Scotland in the opening game of the qualifying round at the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium in Muscat today.
The match, scheduled to begin at 8:00pm local time, will be a challenge for the Tigers and both the small ground and unknown territory can prove tricky propositions, so it will be important for Mahmudullah Riyad and Co. to adopt a clear mindset and set the tone.
Bangladesh will be favorites against Scotland, having gained in confidence after two home series wins against Australia and New Zealand. But the momentum has shifted in recent times as the Tigers succumbed to defeats in warm-up games against Sri Lanka and Ireland.
The return of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who joined the Tigers after finishing his Indian Premier League commitments on Friday night, will surely boost morale. After making the journey to Muscat from Dubai by road on Saturday, Shakib was seen batting in the nets.
Mahmudullah is also expected back after being rested in the warm-ups due to a back injury.
However, there are few areas to be ironed out such as finding a settled opening pair and a way to best utilise the Powerplay overs. Liton Das and Naim Sheikh are expected to open while Soumya Sarkar is also expected to feature at some point.
Mushfiqur Rahim will also be under the scanner after some off-color displays in the home series against New Zealand. The experienced cricketer also missed out in the practice games, scoring 13 and 4 against Sri Lanka and Ireland respectively.
The pace-bowling department will be led by Mustafizur Rahman, who had a good outing in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals, and the team management will rely heavily on his four overs. Mohammad Saifuddin and Taskin Ahmed are the other seamers that will likely form the three-man pace attack.
Meanwhile, Shakib will spearhead the spin department alongside left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed, with off-spinner Mahedi Hasan another option.
The pitch is expected to be sporting, with average first-innings totals in the last five matches at 167 runs.
Bangladesh played Scotland just once in T20Is, taking them on in 2012 in Ireland and falling to a 34-run defeat in chase of 163.And the Scots will look to surprise the Tigers yet again, with coach Shane Burger stating that they will treat Bangladesh the same way as Oman and Papua New Guinea.