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|Shakib Al Hasan||4.0||0||19||1||4.75|
|Shakib Al Hasan||15||15||2||0||100.00|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.0||0||20||1||5.00|
The unofficial break in the international calendar thanks to the IPL is over and the national teams are getting ready to get back into action once again. We have one of the more intriguing contests in recent times, Afghanistan vs Bangladesh in a T20 series up first. The series will be ‘hosted’ by Afghanistan, although, it will be played in Dehradun, India.
Afghanistan has produced some world class T20 players off late while Bangladesh has also started to find their feet in T20 cricket and so we should see a close contest. As the senior partner, Bangladesh is going to be the favorite but that is not always a position that they have preferred to play from.
The rise of Afghanistan as a cricketing nation has been an incredible one. Afghanistan is now a test playing nation and is considered a potent force in the limited overs format of the game. While Afghanistan has played just one T20 match against Bangladesh so far, they have managed to compete very well in the ODI format.
The Afghans will also take confidence from the fact that T20 is easily the Bangladeshis least favorite format of the game.
There are some obvious strengths to the Afghanistan squad. Their bowling strength is excellent and will be led by the best T20 bowler in the world. Rashid Khan has just had a very successful IPL and has played enough cricket around the world to prove that he is no passing phenomenon. He is here to stay and will provide a stern test to the Bangladeshi batsmen.
Rashid Khan is also going to be supported by another upcoming spinner, Mujeeb Ur Rahman. A mystery spinner who can turn the ball both ways and has been very difficult to pick, it will be interesting to see the kind of success Mujeeb can achieve at the international level.
He started out well in the IPL but struggled during the second half. There is no doubt that the Bangladeshi batsmen would have made a note of that.
Apart from these two, Mohammad Nabi will also have a big role to play for Afghanistan. Nabi is very good in the powerplay overs and we could well see two spinners opening the bowling for Afghanistan in this series.
Batting has been what has let Afghanistan down in recent times. Mohammad Shahzad is back at the top of the order and he will be expected to provide some fast starts. Usman Ghani, Mohammad Nabi, Gulabdin Naib and some new faces will form the batting order for Afghanistan.
Najib Tarakai is making a comeback into the team after a little over a year on the sidelines while Darwish Rasooli has been rewarded for consistent performances in the first class competition.
Afghanistan has the advantage of a deep batting order because most of its bowlers can handle the bat pretty effectively as well. The batting lineup may be long but it definitely does not have the quality that its batting does.
T20 brings teams closer together and that is exactly what Afghanistan would be hoping for. If its batting and fielding can step up a notch then they could have an upset on their hands against Bangladesh.
M Shahzad, Usman Ghani, MA Stanikzai, Shafiqullah, N Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karim Janat, S Zadran.
It is a mystery that a team like Bangladesh which has improved leaps and bounds in ODI cricket has struggled in T20’s so much. Add to the fact that its players populate T20 leagues around the world and the mystery becomes truly baffling.
There is no shortage of quality in the Bangladesh side. Led by the best all-rounder in the shorter format of the game, Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh is blessed with exciting players in all disciplines.
Mushfiqur Rahman answered his critics in style by being the top-scorer in the Nidahas Trophy. Bangladesh beat a solid Sri Lanka team twice in the series and lost the final to India by the narrowest of margins.
Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman, and Mahmudullah will be the players that Bangladesh will look towards in this match as well.
We hope to see Sabbir Rahman given more of a responsibility in this match and maybe even see him open the batting. Soumya Sarkar is also in the side but his continued selection is baffling to us. He scores attractive cameos and rarely ends up contributing in vital matches.
Shakib Al Hasan himself is a dangerous batsman and the overall batting lineup that Bangladesh will start with is much stronger than their opponents. The main threat that the Bangladeshis will have to look out for is the trio of spinners Afghanistan has.
Bangladesh’s own bowling has been dealt a blow as Mustafizur Rahman has been ruled out of the series. Easily the best bowler in the Bangladeshi side, his absence will be difficult for Bangladesh to overcome.
It will be interesting to see if Taskin Ahmed gets a game in this series. He is probably the quickest of the Bangladeshi bowlers alongside Rubel Hossain but his control is very inconsistent. We think that Bangladesh will stick with a bowling lineup of Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Islam and some overs from part-timers like Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah.
Bangladesh has never been a strong bowling side. They depend on tailor-made pitches at home to ensure results in test matches and bank on their impressive batting lineup to win them games in the shorter formats.
It appears that this series will be a contest between the Afghan bowling and the Bangladeshi batting.
Dehradun is expected to offer up a flat batting track with some short boundaries and so a weak bowling attack could be put in the spotlight.
We hope to see a fit Shakib Al Hasan lead the bowling attack from the front and some fire from Rubel Hossain to try and rough up the Afghanistan batsmen.
Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Islam, Abul Hasan, Abu Jayed.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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There is a slight chance of rain on match day but the forecast suggests it is nothing that the teams should be worried about. Of more interest to everyone will be the pitch.
We think that Dehradun will provide a good track with some carry in it for it the bowlers. The ball should come on to the bat nicely and the batsmen will be able to take advantage of some small boundaries. The role of the spinners will increase as the series continues but it should be a batting paradise for the first match.
We are likely to see a high-scoring contest in store in Dehradun.
Bangladesh starts this match as favorite and that is reflected in the price being offered by the bookmakers. We, however, believe that there is a real opportunity for punters to back Afghanistan in this match.
They have some capable match winners, play well as the underdogs, and have done well against Bangladesh historically. The T20 format also lends itself to a few upsets.
Back Afghanistan to win.
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