All-rounder expects Pakistan to bounce back stronger and with a different strategy in virtual semi-final against regional rivals in Abu Dhabi
Pakistan forced to reflect ahead of must-win Asia Cup match against Bangladesh, says Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik believes setbacks in the Asia Cup have forced Pakistan to take a good look at themselves ahead of their must-win game against Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The Super Four match is being billed as a virtual semi-final, with the winners joining India in Friday's summit clash in Dubai, but the mood in both camps is likely to be starkly different.
Bangladesh will be confident after a thrilling three-run victory over Afghanistan, while Pakistan are admittedly in search of answers following their second straight defeat to India on Sunday. They also lost in the group stage to their arch-rivals last Wednesday.
Worryingly for Pakistan, both games ended up being one-sided affairs. But Malik, who has had success with the bat in the tournament, says the team have taken notes from both encounters.
“To be honest, no matter even if you are losing to any team, the best thing is to sit down and talk about it and come up with different plans,” the seasoned all-rounder said on Tuesday.
“We lost two games to India. Yes, there are areas we have to improve, and we already spoke about it.
"Hopefully in the coming game, you will be able to see some changes - not to do with team selection, but changing of individual plans."
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Malik, who is Pakistan’s leading run-scorer in the competition with 181 runs, is confident his side can pull off a win - provided they stick to the basics.
“Our batting line-up needs stability," he conceded. “We are playing on tracks where you look at totals in excess of 300 or 350. If you stay at the crease, don't lose wickets, then later in the innings you get a chance to score runs.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes is confident his players will be fresh from a two-day break after playing three games in four days.
“They will be fine but it has been a tough schedule with lots of travel,” Rhodes said. “Abu Dhabi is a long journey and we stay in the far end of Dubai."
But the Englishman is happy with how his players have spent the past two days.
"We had an optional training on Tuesday and a total day off the previous day," he said. "So they should be in a good frame of mind. Physically and mentally, they will feel a lot better.”
Rhodes is wary of Pakistan, even though he reckons they are not “quite the same” side that crushed India in the Champions Trophy final last year.
"Their tournament has been interesting, because they are possibly playing with a bit of lack of confidence," he said. "But they are a very dangerous team. On their day they can really pull things together and play some good cricket.
"So we are respectful to them as a cricketing nation, but we looking forward to the challenge. We are also a very dangerous team on the day, and they know that.
"We wanted to be in this position, to try and beat Pakistan and be in a wonderful final against India.”