Bangladesh will look for inspiration from skipper Shakib Al Hasan to produce a much-improved batting effort when it takes on Afghanistan in its must-win second Group B match of the Asia Cup here on Sunday.
It was a below-par batting performance that let Bangladesh down in its tournament opener against Sri Lanka in Pallekele as it could only manage 164 after opting to bat.
Barring Najmul Hossain Shanto, who was the lone warrior with a 122-ball 89, no other Bangladeshi batter could come up with substantial runs and support him.
Much was expected from the experienced Shakib, but he failed to deliver.
But come Sunday, Shakib has to shoulder the responsibility and be the anchor man in the middle order for Bangladesh. Having said that, Bangladesh would need a strong start from young openers Mohammad Naim and Tanzid Hasan.
Veteran wicketkeeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim too, has to share the responsibility with Shakib.
On the bowling front, Taskin Ahmed looked impressive, but Shoriful Islam lacked sting. Shakib, however, was right on the money with the ball, picking up two wickets for 29 runs from his 10 overs and he would like to continue the momentum.
With such a low score to defend, it was a Herculean task for Bangladesh bowlers, and Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, and Mahedi Hasan could not produce the fire against the Lankans.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, head into the tournament on the back of a 0-3 ODI series loss to Pakistan. But they would take heart from the fact that they had won a three-match ODI series against Bangladesh 2-1 in June and July this year.
Afghanistan, however, lost the preceding two-match T20 series against Bangladesh 0-2.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz has been in great form in ODI cricket of late. He hit centuries against both Pakistan and Bangladesh in the ODI series they played recently.
Besides, off-spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman has been a consistent wicket-taker for Afghanistan and can prove to be a lethal weapon for them.
Having lost captaincy recently, Afghanistan’s star leg-spinning all-rounder Rashid Khan would also be eager to prove a point in the Asia Cup.
It would be a test of character for batsman Hashmatullah Shahidi, who will lead Afghanistan in the Asia Cup.
While Shahidi, Ibrahim Zadran, Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran and veteran Mohammad Nabi would be key for Afghanistan in the batting department, the bowling unit will be on the shoulders of Rashid, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mujeeb and Noor Ahmed.
Bangladesh: Anamul Haque, Mohammad Naim, Mushfiqur Rahim, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Tanzid Hasan, Towhid Hridoy, Shakib Al Hasan, Afif Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Shamim Hossain, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasum Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Taskin Ahmed.
Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Ibrahim Zadran, Ikram Alikhil, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Riaz Hassan, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Abdul Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mohammad Saleem, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad.
Match starts at 3:00 PM IST
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