• Monday, Dec 16, 2019
  • Last Update : 12:03 am

Do-or-die battle for struggling Tigers

  • Published at 10:26 pm September 22nd, 2018
Tigers
Bangladesh's Abu Haider Rony takes a catch during training in the UAE in September as his team mates look on BCB

Bangladesh’s game against Afghanistan in the group stage had no relevance in the context of the tournament but the effect of the heavy defeat was visible in their next game against India and the Afghans may take inspiration from that dead-rubber

Bangladesh left for the United Arab Emirates with the target of reaching the final of the Asia Cup, and to keep their hopes alive, they must win their Super Four game against Afghanistan Sunday in Abu Dhabi. 

The Tigers have their backs to the wall as they lost their first match of the round against India Friday in Dubai. With two more games to go, a defeat against Afghanistan will mean Bangladesh will virtually get eliminated from the tournament. 

Bangladesh also need to win against Pakistan in their third match, while only one win out of these two matches will keep their chances on the thin thread of mathematical equations.  

Afghanistan, on the other hand, are also in a similar situation, having lost their first game in the round, to Pakistan.

The Tigers had started the competition strong with a resolute win against Sri Lanka. However, they lost their most prolific scorer Tamim Iqbal during the match. 

Others failed to fill his gap and also the toll of back-to-back games in the harsh Middle Eastern conditions saw them capitulate in the next two encounters. 

Bangladesh’s game against Afghanistan in the group stage had no relevance in the context of the tournament but the effect of the heavy defeat was visible in their next game against India and the Afghans may take inspiration from that dead-rubber.

With the absence of Tamim, Bangladesh are struggling in the batting department, especially in the top-order, and that was clearly evident in both the games against Afghanistan and India as they fell short of the 200-run mark on each occasion. 

The BCB then pressed the panic button as they hurriedly sent two openers - Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar – on an urgent basis to join the contingent.

The squad is now of 17 men and carrying four specialist openers, including Liton Das and Nazmul Hossain Shanto, making the selection of the playing XI tricky. Imrul and Soumya are to join the team in Dubai late Saturday night. 

With these tough conditions, it is not rational to field in players who have not gotten enough time to acclimatise, but it may not be a surprise if the panic-stricken management decides to include either of the two new arrivals in the starting XI Sunday. 

That however, does not promise pressure will be taken off from the main batsmen, including the likes of Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah. 

An unsettled opening stand saw the remaining batters step up to the competition for Bangladesh, but only once, against Sri Lanka. Apart from the team combination, Bangladesh will also need to think of dealing with the Afghanistan attack. 

The spinners in the shape of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have come up as a big challenge for the Bangladesh batsmen to deal with.

As far as Afghanistan are concerned, the emerging cricket nation have been impressive in the tournament so far. They put up a brave show against Pakistan only to get beaten in the final over against the more experienced outfit. 

Their three main spinners, including Mohammad Nabi, have been their main strength with none of them conceding more than 3.5 runs per over. But for the trio to keep doing the job well, the batsmen will need to ensure a competitive score is registered on the board.