Afghanistan may have mauled Sri Lanka by eight wickets in its Asia Cup 2022 campaign opener. But Shakib Al Hasan’s Bangladesh will be determined to get itself off to a winning start when the two teams meet in a Group B encounter in Sharjah on Tuesday.
Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq ran amok with the new ball against Sri Lanka before Afghanistan’s opening pair of Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz sealed the 106-run chase with effortless ease. It was Afghanistan’s second-largest win in terms of balls remaining - 59. There’s no need for Afghanistan to change a winning combination, save for any last-minute injuries.
“We have prepared well, and we played a good game against Sri Lanka, but that’s gone,” star Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan said on the eve of the match.
“We think about taking one game at a time and giving 100 per cent. It doesn’t matter if the other team takes us lightly or not, we work hard and practice well.
“For us, every opposition is the toughest opposition. Tomorrow, if we play Hong Kong, we will have the same preparation as when we play India.”
Afghanistan is up against a Bangladesh side that’s coming into the tournament on the back of dismal form in white-ball cricket, having lost both limited-overs series in Zimbabwe earlier this month. However, it will be bolstered by the return of Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim. Shakib is set to become the third Bangladesh cricketer to play 100 T20Is, after Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur.
‘’The first match is very important for any tournament because it will dictate how far we will go and what cricket we are going to play,’‘ Bangladesh all-rounder Mahedi Hasan said.
‘’If it is a spinning wicket, it will be good considering both teams have quality spinners. But I feel the side that will perform well with the bat will have a better chance to win the game,’‘ he added.
The pitch in Sharjah may not be as conducive to the pace bowlers as the semi-grassy wicket in Dubai. The smaller ground dimensions could produce a power-hitting exhibition.
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