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Contrary to one would believe, Bangladesh haven't emerged on top against their rivals - Afghanistan often in the past two meetings between the two sides. In fact, the last match between the two teams was the first occasion in the previous five meetings where Bangladesh emerged as the winners. Afghanistan, on the other hand, have grown leaps and bounds since making their T20I debut a few years ago, to the extent that now no team takes them lightly.
Rewind a few years, and the match between the two sides would have been a no-contest. However, the tables have turned over the years, and to some, Afghanistan will start as favorites when the two teams take the field in the final of the tri-series. The match is to be played at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka, on Tuesday, 24th Septemeber.
While Bangladesh did pretty well in England in the ICC World T20, but they failed to keep the momentum going in their home conditions as they lost the only test match against Afghanistan. While that loss was in a different format, the drop in confidence of the side was well and truly apparent when they took the field in the T20I tri-series.
Bangladesh have improved massively since the first match of the series, and their win in the last game was strong evidence of their improvement. Having said that, they still have plenty of issues to ponder upon, which Afghanistan can certainly exploit in the grand finale on Tuesday.
In their last match, Bangladesh's opening pair failed yet again as they were reduced to two down for just 12 runs before being bailed out by Shakib Al Hasan, who played a gem of an innings. The win in the last league game would have done a world of good to lift their spirits. They needed to bounce back after the test defeat, and after losing in the T20I as well, the pressure on them was immense.
They appear to have found back some rhythm and their morale will be high after winning that dead-rubber fixture. It would be about stamping their authority over Afghanistan at home, and if they are able to perform as per their on-paper potential, Afghanistan will have their work cut out.
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Afghanistan have arguably been the best performing side in this tri-series and will be confident of pulling off yet another win in the final of this series. While they have already been doing pretty well in the T20Is, a series win here could prove to be vital in inspiring the youngster back home.
Even though they have their batsmen in the leading run-scorers of the tournament, the confidence of their batting unit will be dented by how they fared in the last league game. Barring Rahmanullah Gurbaz, none of their batsmen has been consistent enough, which is undoubtedly a cause of concern for their management.
Their bowling has done well so far, but an injury to Rashid Khan in the last match is undoubtedly a considerable setback. The extent of damage is still unknown, and it is still unknown if the number one ranked T20I bowler will be available to play on Tuesday. Afghanistan have plenty of spinners to fill for him, but the absence of Rashid Khan will undoubtedly be felt in case he doesn't play in the upcoming match.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi, and Asghar Afghan are most experienced players in this Afghanistan lineup, and a lot will depend on them for the visitors to pull off an inspiring win.
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Check out the Dream11 fantasy team for the tri-series final, which is to be played between Bangladesh and Afghanistan:
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Afghanistan have clearly been the better of the two sides in the run-up to the finals, but they seem to be losing steam. The injury to Rashid Khan hasn't helped their cause either and will have to play catch-up cricket in his absence. Bangladesh, on the other hand, are undoubtedly over-reliant on Shakib Al Hasan, which was evident in their previous match as well. Both the sides are neck-and-neck on paper, but the absence of Rashid Khan puts Bangladesh a little ahead. Considering that and the home advantage, Bangladesh are better placed to emerge on top on Tuesday.
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