Saturday, March 23, 2019 | ePaper
Bangladesh face Afghanistan in crucial super four match today
It will be an acid test for Bangladesh as they face Afghanistan in their super four match of the ACC Asia Cup scheduled to be held today (Sunday) at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The match kicks off at 5.30 pm (BST).
After losing their respective first matches in this round, it goes without saying that both Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be desperate looking to stay alive in this tournament.
The Tigers have already lost a game against Afghanistan, although two of their most important players - Mushfiqur Rahim and Mustafizur Rahman - did not feature in that group-match.
Despite their poor result against Afghanistan in limited-overs cricket in recent past, Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza is hopeful of mounting a comeback against the emerging force of world cricket.
The absence of opener Tamim Iqbal has unsettled the Tigers' top order. The lack of form of the younger batsmen such as Liton Das, Nazmul Hossain Shanto and Mosaddek Hossain has led the selectors to add Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes to the squad.
Whether this will relieve the pressure on the three main batsmen - Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah - remains to be seen.
Both teams are in the same situation, effectively, as far as the tournament goes, but at the moment Afghanistan look clear favourites, their spinners itching to go at an under-pressure batting line-up that has failed to cross 200 in successive games.
Though the Tigers have the ability to turn around in such pressure situations and fit into the equation, and they have shown it in the past during the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 and the Nidahas Trophy this year.
Afghanistan have played impressive cricket in the Asia Cup so far, although the loss to Pakistan will take time to heal. They will hope for a better start from Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah in the first Powerplay.
Their middle order has mostly done the job of steadying the ship and setting a platform for the last 10 overs, in which Afghanistan have now scored 97 and 87 runs in their last two matches, against Bangladesh and Pakistan. Hashmatullah Shahidi has been their batting ace, scoring 192 runs in three innings, but none of the others have been as consistent. Rahmat Shah made 72 against Sri Lanka while Asghar Afghan struck 67 against Pakistan.
Their three main spinners, however, have been outstanding, none of them conceding more than 3.50 runs per over.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman's accuracy and variation with the new ball is backed up by the experienced Mohammad Nabi before their star bowler, the leg spinner Rashid Khan, rips into the middle orders.
Perhaps at times captain Afghan can bring Rashid into the attack slightly earlier, especially if teams get off to good starts.
Bangladesh (probable): Liton Das, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wicket keeper), Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman.
Afghanistan (probable): Mohammad Shahzad (wickt keeper), Ihsanullah, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan (captain), Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.