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Bangladesh keen to maintain home win record as T20I series vs Pak begins

Mirpur, Nov 19 (IANS) Pakistan will be aiming to "check its bench strength", while hosts Bangladesh will hope to regroup at home when the two sides meet at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here later on Friday in the first of the three T20 Internationals.

Bangladesh finished sixth and last in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage of the ICC T20 World Cup, losing all five games and they would be hoping to forget the failed campaign and take on the dangerous-looking Pakistan, who looked unstoppable before they were beaten by Australia in a dramatic T20 World Cup semifinal.

The Mahmudullah-led Bangladesh were plagued by plenty of batting and bowling issues, including the loss of all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who was ruled out with an injury in the middle of the tournament.

However, Bangladesh are a different team altogether at home. They defeated Australia and New Zealand before the T20 World Cup and will be hoping to get back to their winning ways in familiar conditions. But the squad is young. They have dropped veteran Mushfiqur Rahim and will also be without the services of Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das and Rubel Hossain. With Shakib still recovering, they have opted for younger faces.

Pakistan, on the other hand, cannot be taken lightly. They have a favourable record in the format against the hosts, winning 10 out of the 12 T20Is they have played together. They are a team in form and with a full-strength side at their disposal, a youngish Bangladesh side will have to play out of their skins to make a difference.

The last time Bangladesh and Pakistan met is T20Is was nearly two years ago in January 2020 when Bangladesh toured Pakistan for a three-match T20I series. Despite the first match getting abandoned, Pakistan won the series 2-0 with strong bowling performances. In both T20Is, Bangladesh were restricted to below 145 totals, which Pakistan managed to chase without too many hiccups.

"The project is to check the bench strength. We have to try them out and play with a different combination. We have three T20Is against Bangladesh followed by three matches against West Indies so we will try to play with a different combination and a different approach. We have been carrying great momentum from the T20 World Cup so the aim is to continue that and play positive cricket," said Pakistan skipper Babar Azam ahead of the opener.