Before Pakistan's series with Sri Lanka begins in earnest, they play up-and-coming associate nation Afghanistan in a one-off match in the United Arab Emirates.
What: Pakistan vs. Afghanistan, Only T20
Where: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah, UAE
When: Sunday, December 8, 4:00 p.m. GMT (8:00 p.m. SAST)
Live Stream/TV info: Not available in UK, PTV Sports in Pakistan
Weather: It may be winter in the Gulf, but the weather remains excellent, and there's little expectation of anything other than clear skies for the match. Accuweather predicts that temperatures will peak at 28 C during the day of the match, though it will doubtless have come down several degrees by the time the match starts in the evening.
A one-off T20 match usually carries little significance, but this contest is simultaneously meaningful and inconsequential in different ways.
With both sides playing their 'home' cricket in the United Arab Emirates, and both countries having a substantial number of expatriates in the area, a decent crowd could be seen for a clash of local rivals.
For Pakistan, this is the preamble to a series against Sri Lanka, which begins later in the week, and their first test against a side who isn't South Africa for several months, having played the Proteas home and away.
Defeat against an unfancied Asian neighbour would be unthinkable—especially on the first occasion the two sides have ever met in a T20.
Afghanistan will sense the chance to make history and recognise the fact that the match taking place at all as a sign of their meteoric ascent in the cricket world.
At the same time, their next assignment is a very different, and no less important one. Less than 48 hours later, they take on Ireland in a four-day match that will decide the ICC Trophy, and it will be hard not to have one eye on that clash.
Ireland, as it happened, also handed Afghanistan a chastening 68-run defeat in the recent final of the World T20 qualifying tournament.
Mohammad Hafeez has been retained as captain—something of a show of faith for a man who looked lost at times facing Dale Steyn and company during the South Africa clashes. On paper, this represents a chance for the batsman to play himself back into form, but his spin bowling will also be crucial for Pakistan in the absence of Saeed Ajmal, who is sitting out this match before returning to the squad for the Sri Lanka T20s.
Shapoor Zadran will be key to Afghanistan's bowling efforts. The left-armer is genuinely quick, and he generates bounce as well. At associate level, it has proven too much for many to handle—if he's capable of making the step up, it will give his nation some real edge and menace.
Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Ahmad Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Zulfiqar Babar, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail
Mohammad Nabi (captain), Afsar Zazai (wk), Asghar Stanikzai, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamza Hotak,Izatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Najibullah Zadran, Nawroz Mangal, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah (wk), Shapoor Zadran
Squads, stats via Cricinfo