Tigers upbeat about Afghan challenge

The first of the three-match series is set to take place at Chattogram’s Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Wednesday.

Hosts Bangladesh will look to better their track record in the recent times taking on Afghanistan in their favorite format of the game – ODIs. The first of the three-match series is set to take place at Chattogram’s Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Wednesday.

With the points for the ICC Super League at stake Bangladesh will aim to put their best on the field to grab the points and maintain lead in the table. Bangladesh, as of February 11 standings, are the second position in the table with eight wins and 80 points in 12 games.

England are in the top of the table with nine wins and 95 points in 15 games. India and Ireland are at number three and number four with 79 and 68 points each respectively.

Bangladesh also have the opportunity to move at number six in the ICC ODI ranking if they can win the series 3-0 against the Asian oppositions. However, between Bangladesh and their ambitions will be resistance of the Afghanistan spinners.

Like any other opposition, Bangladesh too will worry the spin bowling combination that Afghanistan have with the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi. There is leg-spinner Mohammad Qais also in the squad.

Bangladesh ODI captain Tamim Iqbal however has put it out straight to the media the hosts are not overthinking about the Afghan spin threat, instead looking forward to adapt and give their best in the series.

Speaking at the pre-series media session at ZACS on Tuesday, left-handed opener Tamim wants to think more of having played well against them in the previous meets.

“I am not willing to think and talk much about any specific bowler. As I said they have got some good bowlers and probably they got the best spin attack. But we have played well against them, especially in the ODI format. So why should we think much again? Instead of thinking about the opponent, we should focus on our strength,” said Tamim.

“The three names that you mentioned are not going to bowl full fifty overs as they will also need to use two more bowlers who are also good. You won't get easy bowlers in international cricket as there will be different challenges where some teams depend on spin while others bank on pace. So we have to adjust and give our best accordingly,” the Bangladesh skipper added. 

Tamim is making a comeback to international fold since Bangladesh last played ODIs in July on tour of Zimbabwe. The hosts also have Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim back in the dressing room to boost the middle-order. With the ball they will look up to Shakib and Mehidy Hasan Miraz for the spin with Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman for the pace attack.

 In the selection – Bangladesh in the series have brought in a number of names that has recently performed in the other two format of the games and has option in the four uncapped - Yasir Ali, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Ebadot Hossain and Nasum Ahmed.

For Afghanistan on the other hand, have played one ODI series this year - against Netherlands. The Afghans in Bangladesh are taken lightly since Bangladesh was put in misery in the 2014 Asia Cup. They played a three-match ODI series in Bangladesh in late 2016 too, but lost 2-1.

Bangladesh till date have faced Afghanistan eight times in ODIs and have managed to secure five wins whereas Afghanistan have won three matches.

They last met each other at the 2019 World Cup, where Bangladesh came out on top by 62 runs.

The game is scheduled to start at 11am on ZACS surface that on average offered 254 first-innings score in the last five ODIs.

Bangladesh XI (probable): Liton Das, Tamim Iqbal (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Yasir Ali, Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Shoriful Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman