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Bangladesh Looking to Find a Way to Nullify Afghanistan's Spin Threat

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: September 22, 2018, 6:12 PM IST
Bangladesh Looking to Find a Way to Nullify Afghanistan's Spin Threat

Rashid Khan celebrates after taking a wicket. Image: AP

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Coming off defeats in their first Super Four matches, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will play to keep their chances alive in the 2018 Asia Cup when they take on each other at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday (September 22).

While Bangladesh received a seven-wicket thumping at the hands of India, Afghanistan fought really hard but Pakistan somehow managed to claim a three-wicket victory.

Things haven't been smooth for Mashrafe Mortaza's men ever since their win against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener. Their batsmen have struggled to get going in the last two encounters, and it was largely because of Mushfiqur Rahim (144) and Mohammad Mithun (63) that Bangladesh managed to post a total of 261 against Sri Lanka. However, in their matches against Afghanistan and India, Bangladesh have only managed totals of 119 and 173 respectively, which has been the main reason for their downfall.

After Tamim Iqbal fractured his wrist in the first match, the opening pair of Liton Das and Nazmul Hossain Shanto have failed to provide even decent starts to Bangladesh. As a result, the selectors were forced to add Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes to their squad for the remainder of the tournament. Both the batsmen will arrive in Abu Dhabi by the end of the day and could feature in the playing XI tomorrow.

Bangladesh will also look up to their seasoned campaigners Shakib Al Hasan, Rahim and Mahmudullah to bat with more responsibility and score the major chunk of runs. Their top-order once again failed against India, and if not for a 66-run stand between Mehidy Hasan (42) and Mortaza (26), things could have been worse for Bangladesh.

The likes of Mustafizur Rahman, Mortaza, Shakib and Mehidy have done a decent job in the bowling department but they will need more support from their batsmen, who won't really have it easy versus Afghanistan's formidable bowling attack.

In all three games, Afghanistan have been lucky enough to bat first, and their batsmen have done extremely well to post totals close to 250. Afghanistan's top-three - Mohammad Shahzad, Ihsanullah Janat and Rahmat Shah - have made decent contributions, while hitters like Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan have given them a late surge. Their game plan has been simple - don't lose too many wickets at the start and then capitalise on it late in the innings.

Hashmatullah Shahidi, who scored a brilliant unbeaten 97 against Pakistan, hasn't set the stage on fire but has allowed other batsmen to bat around him. Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan, who hit a blistering 56-ball 67 in the last match, will hope his return to form will provide his team more boost.

The last time these two sides met in the group stage, Bangladesh looked clueless against the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi and were bowled out for just 119, giving Afghanistan a 136-run win. And once again it will all boil down to how Bangladeshi batsmen tackle 'The Trio'.

Squads
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Aftab Alam, Samiullah Shenwari, Munir Ahmad, Sayed Shirzad, Sharafuddin Ashraf.

Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes.
First Published: September 22, 2018, 6:12 PM IST
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