Politics being played, a delayed arrival, the captain Shahid Afridi finding himself in hot water – Pakistan have not had the greatest of buildups heading into the opening match of the ICC World T20 2016 against Bangladesh. But then, there are very few teams who come out of adversity better than the Pakistan cricket team, making them dangerous customers.
Kolkata has been Pakistan's home since arriving in India, with the men in green also set to play the biggest game of them all – against India – at the Eden Gardens. While that match, and its importance, especially after India lost to New Zealand, is on another level, this opening match against Bangladesh is equally crucial.
The last time these two teams met, Bangladesh got the better of Pakistan, in the 2016 Asia Cup T20, with that win taking the former to the final. Pakistan were duly criticised back home for their performances in the Asia Cup, which also included a loss to India, but they did begin their World T20 preparations with a win, over Sri Lanka in a warmup match at the Eden Gardens Monday.
Captain Shahid Afridi, who missed training Tuesday due to illness, and coach Waqar Younis will hope that win gives Pakistan the confidence and momentum to stop Bangladesh and get off to a flying start in Group 2 of the WT20.
"We had a bit of drama before coming here," Waqar was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. "My message to the boys is to leave everything behind, because this is about playing for the nation. This is about playing some quality cricket, which we are all capable of.
"We are a kind of a team that wins once we click, once we get the momentum, we can surprise people."
That momentum, though, will not be easy to build, considering this is a seriously-strong Bangladesh side, capable of beating any team in the limited-overs format. They were easily the second best side in the Asia Cup and deservedly reached the final, while their qualification from the first round of the competition in Dharamsala was never in doubt, even against a nothing-to-lose Oman side.
Having already hit their competitive-in-the-World-T20 straps with those qualifying games, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza hopes the crowd in Kolkata, considering the proximity, will roar his team past Pakistan.
"I think this is a good opportunity to play in this ground," Mortaza told reporters. "I don't know if 90,000 people will turn up, but we are excited to be playing here and we want to make it memorable. As a Bengali, I can hope that Kolkata will be behind us."
With or without the crowd, Bangladesh have the ammunition to stop Pakistan in their tracks even before they get started, something Afridi's men will know pretty well and will look to avoid by playing some outstanding cricket of their own.
Expected lineups: Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi (C), Wahab Riaz, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza (C), Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman.
Where to Watch Live
Pakistan vs Bangladesh is set to begin at 3 p.m. IST (9.30 a.m. GMT, 4.30 a.m. ET). Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 3, and Star Sports HD3 will provide live TV coverage for viewers in India. Viewers in India can also watch the WT20 match in Kolkata by online live streaming on Starsports online and Hotstar.
Viewers in Pakistan can watch all the World T20 action on PTV, while the match can also be live streamed on PTV Live Stream. Audience in Bangladesh can watch this big match live on BTV.
Willow TV will broadcast Pakistan vs Bangladesh live in the US and Canada, while all the action can also be live streamed on Willow TV Online. Sky Sports 2 will broadcast the match between Pakistan and Bangladesh live in the UK , while the live stream option is on Sky Go.
Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can watch the WT20 action live on OSN Sports Cricket HD. The online live stream option for the match at the Eden Gardens is on OSN Play. Audience in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa can watch the World T20 action live on SuperSport 2, with the online live stream option SuperSport Live Video.
Viewers in New Zealand can watch the match live on Sky Sport and Sky Go NZ. Fox Sports will show the match between live in Australia, while the live streaming option is on Foxtel. Viewers in the Caribbean can watch the match between Pakistan and Bangladesh live on ESPN and ESPN Player.