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Formidable Bangladesh up against Afghanistan

  • Published at 10:09 pm September 24th, 2016
Formidable Bangladesh up against Afghanistan
It is pretty much the same Bangladesh team which were beaten by Afghanistan in Fatullah in the Asia Cup back in 2014. Two years went by and now it's a totally different team. The scenario has changed drastically as Bangladesh have raised their standard to the next level. During this time, the Tigers qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup and followed it up by winning series over Pakistan, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is no surprise therefore, to see Mashrafe bin Mortaza and his troop growing from strength to strength, especially in the 50-over format, over the last two years. And when the Tigers face Afghanistan in the first of three day-night ODIs in Mirpur's Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Sunday, the home side will be looking to continue their brilliant run. The match begins at 2:30pm. Bangladesh's first hurdle would be to get into the groove right from the word go as they played their last international game almost six months ago. However, their task is likely to be made slightly easier as fast bowler Taskin Ahmed got the green signal from the International Cricket Council to bowl again. In the absence of the injured paceman Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin's addition will no doubt boost the pace bowling department. Another pacer Shafiul Islam is likely to make a comeback on Sunday and with the likes of Mashrafe and spinners Taijul Islam and Shakib al Hasan propping up the bowling department, the Afghan batsmen certainly have their work cut out. Meanwhile, young batsman Mosaddek Hossain has a bright chance of making it into the starting XI which means opener Imrul Kayes and all-rounder Nasir Hossain might have to sit out the game, alongside pace bowler Rubel Hossain. [caption id="attachment_17835" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib al Hasan ponders during training in Mirpur's Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Saturday Dhaka Tribune/Mainoor Islam Manik[/caption] Besides Shakib, experienced trio Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim will once again look after the batting duties along with opening batsman Soumya Sarkar and youngster Sabbir Rahman. Afghanistan, in contrast, will not be short of confidence as they have won 14 out of 23 matches this year. And ahead of the Bangladesh ODIs, the Afghans underwent a 20-day training camp in India to sharpen their skills. Asghar Stanikzai and his troop are a fine blend of youth and experience and they have picked three youngsters from the Under-19 side which took part in the 2016 U-19 World Cup. Young leg-spinner Rashid Khan impressed with his variation in their lone practice match against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI, bagging two wickets, and will prove to be a handful for the hosts, according to Mosaddek. Seasoned cricketers like the former skipper Mohammad Nabi, wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad and Samiullah Shenwari will be expected to chip in with their vital contributions. As far as the weather is concerned, it rained heavily yesterday. The pitch was covered and there is expected to be some movement for the faster bowlers. Keeping that in mind, the toss will be vital and there is every chance that the game will be a curtailed one. PLAYERS TO WATCH Shakib al Hasan: All eyes will be on the champion cricketer when the Tigers face Afghanistan in the first ODI of the year as Shakib is on the verge of yet another milestone. The left-arm spinner is two wickets away from becoming the highest wicket-taker in ODIs. Abdur Razzak is currently at the top of the list with 207 wickets. Shakib is already the leading wicket-taker for the Tigers in the other two formats and the 29-year old is pretty much expected to make the record his own in the Afghanistan ODIs. Rashid Khan: Among the three leg-spinners in the Afghan line-up, Rashid has already earned a lot of plaudits through his impressive performances. The 18-year old has a variety of deliveries up his sleeve and possesses the ability to bowl in the right areas consistently. Rashid picked up two wickets in the only practice match against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI and will play an important role for his side against the Tigers.
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