Afghanistan serves big teams a notice

In both the T20Is at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Afghanistan has emerged as a superior unit on all counts.

With the next edition of the World Twenty20 almost two years away, Afghanistan can certainly emerge as a force to reckon with by the time the teams square off Down Under in 2020.   -  AFP

Bangladesh has been playing international cricket for more than three decades, whereas Afghanistan has been around the top-flight of international arena for barely a decade. Still, if the performances of both the teams in the ongoing Twenty20 series, which Afghanistan sealed with its second successive emphatic win Tuesday night, are to weight in, the younger of the Asian sub-continental teams have certainly outshone their seniors from Bangladesh in all the departments.

In both the T20Is at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Afghanistan has emerged as a superior unit on all counts. Be it factors getting a hang of conditions or pacing the innings or executing the big hits, or bowling to the field, or accuracy and artistry with the ball or bowling changes, Bangladesh has lacked far behind its opponent. As a result, Thursday's last of the three matches has been rendered meaningless, with Afghanistan snatching a six-wicket win and sealing the series on Tuesday.

While Bangladesh struggled to get its act together, Afghanistan has excelled on all counts. In fact, so formidable have Asghar Stanikzai's stallions been that it has served as a warning to even the top teams in the world to beware of them in the shortest format. Burly hitter Shafiqullah didn't hold himself back in stressing on T20 cricket being “Afghanistan's forte” before adding it “can beat any top team in the world in T20”.

READ: Rashid, Nabi power Afghanistan to series win

With the next edition of the World Twenty20 almost two years away, Afghanistan can certainly emerge as a force to reckon with by the time the teams square off Down Under in 2020. Before that, however, Afghanistan has a bigger white-ball challenge in the 2019 World Cup, to be played in England. Shafiqullah conceded that the team's maiden World Cup outing in 2015 wasn't a memorable one, but was optimistic the players “would be more confident having gained confidence and exposure last time” in 2019.

While Afghanistan appears unstoppable, Bangladesh seems to be in a riddle that the team has found itself in for most of its cricket sojourn. Consistency and Bangladesh team have just gone hand in hand over a period of time, which has constantly reflected in the team's returns at the highest level. Thursday's last rubber of the series may be a meaningless affair in the context of the series outcome. However, for Bangladesh, it would be a huge match from the team's and a few individuals' perspectives as well. A win will give Shakib Al Hasan's men something to cheer about on the way home, but a series whitewash will result in the team stooping to a new nadir in white-ball cricket.

Brief scores

Bangladesh 134 for eight in 20 overs (Tamim Iqbal 43; Rashid Khan four for 12, Mohammad Nabi two for 19) lost to Afghanistan 135 for four in 18.5 overs (Samiullah Shenwari 49, Mohammad Nabi 31 n.o.; Mosaddek Hossain two for 21) by six wickets.