Bangladesh will be looking to claw their way back in a second match of the three-match Twenty20 International series against Afghanistan at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Dehradun.
The visitors under the leadership of Shakib Al Hasan were outclassed in all three departments of the game, in the series opener by the Afghan boys.
The Bangla Tigers need to pull their socks up if they harbour hopes of making a comeback in an ongoing enticing series.
Interestingly, the spin duo of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman continued quite brilliantly. Yet again, the teenage cricketers proved to be the difference between the bottom-placed sides.
Ahead of the opening T20I, Afghanistan was tipped as the favourites. They managed to live up to their reputation. They got off to a pretty slow yet steady start.
However, it was Samiulllah Shenwari and Shafiqullah Shafiq’s quickfire knocks towards the fag end of Afghanistan’s innings that propelled them to a competitive score of 167 in their allotted 20 overs.
Shenwari scored 36 of just 18 deliveries which included three fours and as many sixes. Shafiq was dismissed for 24 of just eight balls which included three sixes and a four.
Afghanistan has played some very good cricket in the recent past. With the sort of form they have been in, a whitewash cannot be ruled out.
Moreover, Bangladesh will be a tad worried about their bowling attack who tend to leak runs at crucial junctures of the game.
The medium pace duo of Abhu Jayed and Abul Hasan conceded 74 runs in the last six overs which took Afghanistan to a total of 167 runs.
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Barring a top-order collapse which reduced them to 91 for four, Afghanistan was quite brilliant with the bat.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shehzad struggled way through to 40. He is a natural stroke maker. However, some impressive bowling from Bangladesh prevented him from going big. But, they were unable to provide the wickets on a consistent basis.
Afghanistan cashed in on the opportunity. Eventually, they managed to finish on a competitive.
Tempted to bring in a couple of changes, there is a possibility of Soumya Sarkar coming back to the playing XI at the expense of one of the top order batsmen. They need to perform well as a batting unit.
Tigers need to come prepared against Rashid and Mujeeb. With the sort of technologies we have in the modern generation, they must be figuring out what needs to be done against two mystery spinners.
With the series in line, Bangladesh needs to produce something dramatic to make their case stronger.
On the other hand, Afghanistan will be looking to seal the series with another professional performance.
A series victory in any formats which actually keep them in the right space ahead of their historic inaugural Test against India. The iconic Test is will be played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore between June 14 and 18.
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Afghanistan is unlikely to tinker with their winning combination. They played a brilliant brand of cricket in the opening clash.
Furthermore, they will be looking for much of the same on Tuesday (June 5) evening. Afghanistan boasts of some exceptional players. Hence, they will again start as favourites to win the series here on.
Predicted XI: Mohammad Shehzad, Usman Ghani, Asghar Stanikzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiquallah Shafiq, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Shapoor Zadran
In addition, Bangladesh could opt for a couple of changes after losing the first match. They need to play their A game to level the series.
Also, they can only force their way back into the series if the big players rise to the occasion.
Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan may find a place in the playing XI. He missed the first T20I owing to an injury.
Predicted XI: Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Abu Jayed.
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