RAWALPINDI                  -              Pindi Cricket Stadium is all set to host the first Test between Pakistan and Bangladesh today (Friday).

Both the teams arrived at Pindi Stadium on Thursday morning and had almost two hours practice session. The main attraction of Pakistan team practice was the youngsters, who were invited from different clubs for batting practice of Pakistani batsmen, while head coach, chief selector and batting consultant Misbah-ul-Haq was also training the batsmen. He was passing on directives to club bowlers to bowl at particular line and length. Azhar Ali, Misbah and chief curator were involved in lengthy discussion at the centre of the pitch.

Bangladeshi team players were looking happy and satisfied as they were enjoying the weather and hospitality of the PCB, while their main focus was on fast bowling, they practice mainly on pacers and mainly batted for longer period of time.

Earlier, security forces had cordoned off entire area from where busses of both cricket teams make their ways towards the stadium. Traffic was stopped for commoners for around an hour or so, which led to long queues, despite clear directives regarding the team movements issued a day earlier, but even then masses used main roads, which after the teams reached the stadium were opened once again for traffic. It was huge fun, festivity as highly pumped up spectators, mainly based on youth, were trying to have a glance of their heroes.

It looks like the way Pakistani team management brought spinners from different clubs, Misbah is aware of Bangladeshi spin bowling threat and there is every possibility, Pakistan team will use batting-friendly track for the first Test. It is most likely that Fawad Alam will once again warm the bench and Pakistan will enter with four specialist bowlers and Haris Sohail is most likely retain his place in the playing XI, while Imam-ul-Haq has to once again carry the water bottles as 12th man. Pakistan is most likely going to retain the same team, which played last Test against Sri Lanka at National Stadium, Karachi. Pindi wicket is traditionally a fast bowlers paradise, which will help the pace bowlers.

Bangladesh team looks highly weak in the absence of banned Shakib ul Hasan and former skipper and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, as they will heavily rely on spinners to produce wonders. Pakistan team holds huge edge on Bangladesh and there is every possibility, if five-day cricket is played uninterrupted due to weather conditions, Pakistan will register convincing victory. The first Test will start at 10:00am today, as the toss will be held at 9:30am.

Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, while addressing a press conference at Pindi Stadium conference room, said that because of ICC Test Championship ranking points, every Test match is very important and we know the significance of winning the Test, as we are currently having 80 points in ICC Test Championship ranking points.

Azhar further said, “Yes the present series is a split series, but credit goes to both PCB and BCB for holding it. We are fully focussed on first Test. It is true that I havn’t perform as a player last year or so, but good thing is that in the last Test, I rediscovered the form, which will help me a great deal in Pindi Test. It is hard to continue the same momentum, but I will not let the team and the country down.”

He said last time, the match was highly disturbed due to rain. “Pindi is usually a result-oriented venue. We will try to enter the first Test with same Karachi-Test combination.

“It is very encouraging sign that international teams are coming to Pakistan. Our fast bowling attack is relatively inexperienced and fresh looking and they need time to settle down. The entire Pakistan Super League 2020 will be organised in Pakistan for the first time, which will give huge boost to the youngsters and local players.”

The skipper said Pakistan team is well-balanced and highly equipped. Fawad Alam has forced his way in the national squad and he is more than capable of booking place in the playing XI. “We can’t take Bangladesh lightly as they can pose serious threat to us.”

Sharing his views, Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque said, “We are highly grateful to Pakistan for the hospitality and arrangements made for us. We had nothing about security in mind, we are here to play positive cricket and want to help Pakistan cricket in hard times. As all know, every point is highly crucial in the ICC Test Championship and every match is very crucial, we will try to play good and attacking cricket. Every player is important for the team,l. We have closely watched the pitch and we will decide before the toss, who will be part of the playing XI.”H

He said, “It is very difficult to play without our key players, but on the other hand, it is a great opportunity for those players, who will get chance to represent the country and showcase their talent. Pakistan team is good, but we are not less than anyone and we will give our best and try to win matches as well as hearts and minds of Pakistani people. We know how much Pakistani supporters are passionate about cricket and give guge respect to international teams as well. Hopefully, it will be a great match and people will witness the best cricket,”he concluded.  Later both captains Azhar Ali and Mominul Haque unveiled the test series trophy.

SQUADS

Pakistan (likely): Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (capt), Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi.

Bangladesh (likely): Tamim Iqbal, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque (capt), Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Liton Das (wk), Taijul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain.