DHAKA - Bangladesh are allowed to feel some Schadenfreude when hearing Pakistan ask for more time to develop as a team. It used to be Bangladesh's go-to phrase for years. Ahead of the third ODI, both teams are in uncharted waters: there have been plenty of dead rubbers between these sides but Pakistan were never on the wrong end of one.

In the first two matches, Bangladesh had good starts with the bat and that translated into a smoother time for the middle order. Their lower order hasn't needed to contribute yet. Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim had two century stands, with Tamim making a brace of hundreds. Mushfiqur also continued his rich form, collecting a hundred and a fifty. Soumya Sarkar is promising to build on his starts, but Mahmudullah will want a big innings in the third ODI.

The home team's spinners have also taken grip of the two contests. Shakib Al Hasan and Arafat Sunny did it by varying their pace, while Nasir Hossain was accurate. Mashrafe Mortaza will also rely on Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed to continue giving him breakthroughs. The young pair has outbowled their opposite numbers.

Pakistan's pace attack has disappointed, especially Junaid Khan. He has just one wicket in two games and looked listless. Rahat Ali's hamstring niggle meant Umar Gul could be back after his last playing in December. Saeed Ajmal has also been disappointing but he is feeling his way back into international cricket with his remedied action, while Mohammad Hafeez will be relieved to be given the green-signal by the ICC just before Wednesday's game.

The batting has also failed. Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed have been poor as openers while Hafeez and Fawad Alam are senior batsmen without runs. Instead it has been Mohammad Rizwan and Saad Nasim, the two newcomers, who have shown glimpses of their talent.

match starts at 1:30 pm

Tamim Iqbal will have restored most of his lost confidence after scoring two successive hundreds. His approach in this series has been like the Tamim of old, when he freely charged the bowlers. A third big score can be expected. This third ODI presents Tamim with the opportunity to get to a unique record. If he goes on to score another century, he’ll become the first Bangladesh batsman to score three consecutive centuries in ODIs. Mahmudullah Riyad and Shahriar Nafees have scores two consecutive centuries so far.  

“We need to go up the rankings. If we can win against higher-ranked sides, we will get more points. Ultimately, we have to stay within the top eight to play in the World Cup. We have been around No. 9 and 10 for a long time. We got up to No. 8 for a brief period, but now we have to get to that level and stay there,” Shakib said, throwing light on his team’s ambitions. Even if Bangladesh win the final ODI, it’ll not move up the table, though it will gain three ratings points.

Pakistan, by contrast, have been patchy so far, with a new-look side struggling to get their act together. A loss in the third ODI will mean Pakistan will slip to the eighth position in the ICC ODI Team rankings. The defeat will leave the visitor with 92 points - level with West Indies - but the Caribbeans will have a slender 0.13 point advantage when the fractions are calculated.

There was hue and cry to include Sarfraz Ahmed in Pakistan's XI during the World Cup. He repaid the faith back then, but he has been unsuccessful in this series. With the team desperate for runs at the top, there is pressure on him to get a big score. If Bangladesh are going for a 3-0 victory, they will not want to change the line-up. However, if they rest one of their senior players, Mominul Haque or Rony Talukdar could get a game.

Pakistan are likely to bring in Umar Gul in place of Rahat Ali. Zulfiqar Babar could come in to add to the spin attack though with Hafeez now allowed to bowl, they could go with Ajmal as the only specialist spinner.

The pitch is expected to behave similarly as the ones used for the first two games, with the side batting first targeting a 300-plus score. Weather could worsen in the early evening with forecasts showing 88% chance of rain at around 5:00pm.


PAKISTAN (PROBABLE): Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Azhar Ali (capt), M Hafeez, Haris Sohail, M Rizwan, Fawad Alam, Saad Nasim, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul

BANGLADESH (PROBABLE): Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Arafat Sunny, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain.