Afghanistan vs Bangladesh T20I Series Preview : “Hosts” Start Off As Favourites
Desultory, long walks in the narrow lanes of Dalanwala , under the dimness of lychee trees can often leave you tarrying in the jungles that contain the hidden treasures locked away in a Ruskin Bond story. The spirit of Dehradun may not be as dreary and laid back as it used to be, with its ostentatious malls replacing the natural décor, but the chatters of a cricket match can still be heard in the Paltan bazar, where the masses tuck into their guilty pleasure of chaats.
Soon, in a couple of days, the city is set to host its first ever International cricket game at the new Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, which gives a look of Aipan, a traditional Kumaoni art. Dehradun will be Afghanistan’s new home ground , previously having their base in Greater Noida, where they host the visiting Bangladeshi team for three T20Is.
Afghanistan, placed two spots above their counterparts at eighth position in the T20I rankings, opted for a more youthful squad ahead of their Test debut against India. The two new faces include U19 star Darwish Rasooli and opener Najeeb Tarakai.
The former is coming off the back of scoring 1073 runs in eight matches of the Ahmad Shah Abdali 4-day tournament. He was also a part of Afghanistan’s U19 World Cup campaign held in New Zealand in January, when he scored two fifties- one each against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, batting in the middle order.
The latter, Tarakai, scored a 90 off 58 balls against Ireland in the second T20I when they played hosts in Greater Noida and could well partner Mohammad Shahzad at the top.
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As Bangladesh are well aware of their shortcomings, they conceded that Afghanistan start as favourites, putting focus on the likes of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran. Both had successful IPL campaigns as the former picked 21 wickets and the latter scalping 14 in 11 matches.
While it maybe an uneven battle between the spin departments , the series could well be dominated by fast bowlers with a green pitch being laid out which makes it tough for the batsmen to exploit the conditions.
Afghanistan T20 squad:
Asghar Stanikzai (c), Mohammad Shahzad, Najeebullah Tarakai, Usman Ghani, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Darwish Rasooli, Mohammad Nabi , Gulbadin Naib, Karim Jannat, Rashid Khan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam
The Bangladesh squad seems heavy on experience, more so in the batting department than the bowling group. Coming on the back of a thrilling last over loss against India in the Nidahas trophy, they seem to be light on their bowling resources.
On the eve of the team’s departure from Dhaka, they were dealt with a blow as Mustafizur Rehman, their premier T20 bowler, was ruled out owing to a toe injury. He, along with Rubel Hossain, had scalped seven wickets in the tri-series.
T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan, who joined the squad late after an extended break to recuperate after the Indian Premier League, is well aware of how the loss affects the team balance but believes that at the same time it opens up an opportunity for pacer Abul Hasan, who was named his replacement and urged others to step up.
While there was no place for opener Imrul Kayes, pacer Taskin Ahmed and glovesman Nurul Hasan, the selectors kept faith in the misfiring batsman Soumya Sarkar, seamer Abu Jayed and left arm paceman Abu Hider, as they also recalled the 22-year old batsman Mosaddek Hossain.
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Although they have retained the core of their unit, it remains to be seen how the senior players perform against the spin bowling might of Afghanistan, given that Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah and Mehdi Hasan Miraz have only recently recuperated from their respective injuries.
Tamim Iqbal could be reunited with Liton Das at the top of the order. The duo put on a 74-run partnership for the first wicket in the third match of the Nidahas trophy versus Sri Lanka in a winning cause.
The middle order could very well revolve around Mushfiqur, who was the leading run-scorer in the tri-series with 198 runs in five innings and Sabbir Rehman who scored a little over 140 in the same series. Mahmudullah could well be saved for the death over heroics , who registered a strike rate of 157,37 in the series.
What could concern Bangladesh is that Shakib is the only threat in the bowling department, who picked up 14 wickets in the IPL at a decent economy . On a greenish pitch with enough carry for a fast bowler , they could have played a wrist spinner instead of Mehdi Hasan Miraz, who picked a solitary wicket in five matches of the Nidahas trophy.
Bangladesh T20 squad:
Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Ariful Haque, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam, Abul Hasan, Abu Hider, Rubel Hossain, Abu Jayed
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