LAHORE                     -                  After taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20 International series, hosts Pakistan are now keen to complete 3-0 whitewash against Bangladesh with a victory in the third and last T20I here at Gaddafi Stadium today (Monday).

The hosts are now keen to inflict a 3-0 whitewash on the visiting side to retain their number one T20 champions status. The final game could be an opportunity to try out some new faces, but they would certainly want to make a statement with a series sweep. Among teenagers Muhammad Musa, Amad Butt and Usman Qadir, any one or two could be handed an international debut.

Bangladesh look unsure of how to go about handling Pakistan’s bowling attack. It’s not so much a lack of skills, but with roles not being defined clearly enough - there are six opening batsmen in the squad - it hasn’t been straightforward for captain Mahmudullah and coach Russell Domingo.

Their bowling also hasn’t come to the party, with senior quick Mustafizur Rahman guilty of erring in lines and lengths in the first two games. Their lack of a genuine spinner has also added to the lack of balance, as Bangladesh are a team that has always banked on spinners to do a lot of the work even in T20Is. Now the guests would rely on experience of Rubel Hussain, after conceding a nine-wicket victory to the hosts on Saturday. Middle-order batter Najmul Hossain Shanto, who impressed in the Bangladesh Premier League, might also be considered for the final T20I.

Pakistan skipper and No 1 batsman in the world, Babar Azam (66*) helped Pakistan chase down the 137-run target with nine wickets and 3.2 overs to spare in the second T20I. The captain was ably assisted by veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez, who also played an excellent unbeaten innings of 67. Both the hosts batsmen punished Bangladesh bowlers at their will and landed home safely.

Like the first T20I, Bangladesh batsmen couldn’t deliver exceptionally in the second encounter and were restricted to a low total, which the hosts easily chased down losing just wicket. Only Tamim Iqbal struck 53-ball 65 while rest of their batsmen, except two, couldn’t cross double figures. The guests will now hope for more contribution from experienced batters such as Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar and skipper Mahmudullah in the third game. Pakistan skipper Babar Azam says, “The youngsters have done well in this series and that is important as we want more options for the T20 World Cup. We would like to give chance to players sitting on the bench in the final game.”

Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah says, “We are disappointed to lose the game and series. We didn’t apply ourselves to get 150-160. Apart from Tamim, none of us batted well. On the playing XI in the third T20I, coach Russell Domingo says, “I need to give everyone opportunity. We are 2-0 down in the series. The three boys who haven’t played will definitely come in and have a game, so that we can look at a few more options.”

The historic Gaddafi Stadium pitch has been difficult to score quickly on, though Pakistan did go past Bangladesh’s 136-6 with 20 balls to spare in the second game. The 200-run mark has never been breached at this venue in T20I cricket. The weather forecast isn’t great, as showers are expected in Lahore in the afternoon.



Captain: Babar Azam

Team (likely): Ahsan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain/Muhammad Musa


Captain: Mahmudullah

Team (likely): Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Naim, Mahedi Hasan, Liton Das (wk), Afif Hossain Dhrubo, Soumya Sarkar/Mohammad Mithun, Aminul Islam Biplob, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman/Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain