Rivals to clash in World T20 opener

KOLKATA • Bangladesh will look to compound the misery of beleaguered Pakistan today in their opening group match of the World Twenty20, fresh from humbling their arch-rivals in the Asia Cup.

Despite their recent improvements in 50-over cricket, Bangladesh have a rotten record in the World T20 and have never beaten Pakistan in the premier tournament of cricket's shortest format.

But they will fancy their chances at Kolkata's Eden Gardens against a team who are on a miserable run and whose preparations have been hit by their late arrival in India following a row over security.

Bangladesh cruised through last week's preliminary round and know that a victory over Pakistan will set them up nicely if they are to make the semi-finals.

Star batsman Tamim Iqbal is in the form of his life, scoring Bangladesh's first international T20 century in Sunday's victory over Oman after scores of 83 and 47 in the first two games.

Fans in the cricket-mad nation held impromptu street parties earlier this month when Bangladesh clinched a five-wicket win over Pakistan in Dhaka, sealing a place in the final of the Asia Cup, which they lost to India.

Mashrafe Mortaza's side can expect strong support from their fellow Bengalis in Kolkata.

But Afridi said Pakistan had a good record at Eden Gardens, including a convincing victory over India in an ODI in January 2013.

"We have very good memories over here and we are pretty much confident," he said.

Afridi landed himself in trouble when he said he had received more "love" from fans in India than back home, comments that incensed former Pakistan skipper Javed Miandad.

Bangladesh's build-up has been serene in comparison. But, after seeing off Oman, the Netherlands and Ireland in the preliminaries, Mortaza knows the hard work now begins in a group that includes India, Australia and New Zealand.

"In that group you can't make any mistakes, you have to be up to the mark," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'Rivals to clash in World T20 opener'. Print Edition | Subscribe