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Bangladesh had Afghanistan reeling at 160 for 7 in the 41st over, but things changed rapidly soon. Rashid Khan smashed an unbeaten 57 off 32 balls which, along with Gulbadin Naib's unbeaten 42, took Afghanistan to 255 for 7. Bangladesh didn't even score half of that and were bowled out for just 119 in 42.1 overs, having no answers to Rashid, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Co.
That's definitely not ideal preparation for a crucial game against India, but Bangladesh have no option but to move on. They can take confidence from the fact that Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored a superb century against Sri Lanka, will be back for the India game after being rested for the inconsequential match against Afghanistan.
Mustafizur Rahman too will be back to bolster the bowling, particularly in the death overs where they struggled last night.
The others, however, still have to step up, especially with Tamim Iqbal ruled out with a fractured wrist. Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah got starts against Afghanistan, and they'll look to do more to relieve pressure off Mushfiqur.
It won't be easy against an Indian attack that found its feet against Pakistan after a poor game against Hong Kong. India were nearly stunned in their opening game, with the Hong Kong openers adding 174 and threatening to chase down the 286-run target. That didn't happen, but India did get a wake up call.
India corrected their mistakes in the next game, shooting out Pakistan for just 162 before striding to an easy eight-wicket win. The key to the improved performance was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who hit the right lengths with the new ball along with Jasprit Bumrah. Between them, they got five wickets, while the wily Kedhar Jadhav bagged three with his off-spin.
Jadhav's bowling form adds depth to the side, but India were hit by the injury to Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder has been ruled out with a back injury he sustained against Pakistan. Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur too have been ruled out with injuries, with Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Siddarth Kaul coming in as replacements.
The conditions and schedule are perhaps already taking a toll, but it will be interesting to see if any of them get a go immediately for they joined the side only on Thursday. India will be confident given the form of their openers - Shikhar Dhawan scored a century against Hong Kong, while Rohit Sharma seemed in superb hitting touch when he scored a half-century against Pakistan.
India still have their middle-order woes to address. The batsmen added just 48 runs in the last 10 overs against Hong Kong , and the middle-order wasn't needed in the small chase against Pakistan. If Bangladesh can get through the top three early, they could put India under pressure.
For that, though, they'll have to recover from the tough schedule and the relentless heat in UAE.
First Published: September 21, 2018, 10:49 AM IST