DHAKA  - Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq on Saturday warned his team-mates about the stiff challenge posed by Bangladesh ahead of their clash in the opening match of the Asia Cup today (Sunday).
He said his side would not make the mistake of taking Bangladesh lightly despite Pakistan’s nearly perfect record against the hosts. Of the 29 matches between the sides, Pakistan has lost just one, an ODI at the 1999 World Cup.
‘We don’t want to commit that mistake. Bangladesh is a difficult opposition at home, because they know the condition very well,’ Misbah said. ‘On their day they can upset you, so we will not take them lightly. We have to put in our hundred percent, we really have to come out hard to win the game.’ He added that new Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore, a former Bangladesh coach, should be able to provide the tourists with details about the opposition and the local conditions.
‘He is already contributing, and of course he can give some input about the Bangladeshi players,’ Misbah said. ‘But I think we are playing lots of cricket against Bangladesh, we played a series against them here in Dhaka. So we are quite familiar with them.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq believes Asia Cup rivals India and Sri Lanka will go into the tournament the stronger for their chastening recent experiences in Australia. Misbah, though, feels those setbacks will not have done the two sides any harm, and said: "I think the way they have played cricket in Australia, it will always be difficult...to play against them as they have played tough cricket over there. To compete with them we have to work very hard and have to improve our performance." Pakistan go into the tournament also on the back of an ODI series defeat, having been beaten 4-0 by England in the United Arab Emirates. They won the earlier Test series 4-0 before losing the Twenty20 series.
They have experience of recent success in Bangladesh, though, recording comprehensive Test and ODI series wins there in December. But Misbah added: "Regardless of the situation that we have played here and have some advantage, that will hardly matter as they (India and Sri Lanka) have played some tough cricket. A lot of teams get mentally strong after playing over there (in Australia)."
Misbah also claimed his team were keen to move on from their ODI humbling against England.
"Every game and every series is a different ball game," he said. "You can't just stick to the series that you have lost. Meanwhile, Shakib said dealing with Pakistan’s spin attack would be the key challenge for Bangladesh.  ‘Handling Pakistan’s spin attack is vital for us, and moreover their fast bowling unit is also good. I think they have the best bowling unit of all the teams playing this tournament,’ Shakib said.
Despite Bangladesh’s inconsistent performance against top teams, Shakib said the hosts will aim to win every match at the tournament.  The Asia Cup also involves India and Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh: Imrul Kayes, Tamim Iqbal, Nazimuddin, Jahurul Islam, Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Mashrafe bin Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Elias Sunny, Nazmul Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Shahadat Hossain, Anamul Haque.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), M Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younus Khan, Umar Akmal, Hammad Azam, Asad Shafiq, Shahid Afridi, Azhar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Riaz.