Afghans eye Bangladesh scalp after Sri Lanka

Nabi and co beat Islanders in first match, will be eyeing victory, spot in Super Fours

Abdul Majid August 30, 2022


As the 2022 Asia Cup breathes with a day-long break after the high-intensity Pakistan-India clash in Dubai on Sunday, the action returns to the fabled Sharjah ground in the UAE as on-fire Afghanistan face a low on confidence Bangladesh.

Afghanistan came as minnows into the event, alongside Hong Kong, but their outright domination over one of the Asian giants, Sri Lanka, made it pretty evident that they’re not in it to fill the spots only.

A brilliant display of fast-bowling by Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveenul Haq to start off the Asia Cup was a treat to watch, even more so because Afghanistan are known to rely on spinners, Rashid Khan et all to win matches. However, with their pacers firing on all cylinders against Sri Lanka, bringing the Islanders down to 5-3 in just the second over, sent a warning to all others – write them out at your own peril.

Afghanistan came into the Asia Cup after losing to Ireland in a T20I series, but their perfect eight-wicket victorious start must have given them enough confidence to make it to the Super Fours.

Familiarity with the UAE conditions is also an added advantage for the Mohammad Nabi-led side, as they’ve played majority of their cricket in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile, history and stats are also in favour of Afghanistan as they’ve downed Bangladesh on five occasions as compared to three losses in T20Is.

Also, the Sharjah ground favours spinners as they’ve garnered better average, economy and strike rate than pacers in the past year – something Afghanistan would be happy to take into consideration.

Bangladesh’s form

Bangladesh would have been watching Afghanistan thrashing Sri Lanka with very keen focus.

The Tigers recently lost both their white-ball series against Zimbabwe, throwing their confidence into a downward spiral, but the defeats came without the presence of veterans Shakibal Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim in the squad. Shakib will also become the third Bangladesh cricketer to complete his 100 T20Is, after Madmudullah and Mushfiqur.

The two will play for Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, together with bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin; the perfect boost for them to make their maiden claim for the continental trophy.

Injuries to Litton Das and Nurul Hasan have made way for Sabbir Rahman and Mohammad Naim, but Bangladesh would’ve liked the first two, as they recently showed promise in the T20 format.

In focus

Fazalhaq Farooqi: The 21-year-old left-arm pacer burst into limelight with the very first over he bowled in the 2022 Asia Cup against Sri Lanka. Perfect line and length, control and pitching the ball in the right areas saw him clean up the Sri Lankans top-order, setting up the match for an easy Afghanistan win.

With such an amazing performance in his first match at the Asia Cup, Farooqi’s confidence would be sky high when he is asked to open the bowling against Bangladesh.

Shakibal Hasan: Once the number one all-rounder in the world, Shakib is still the star of the Bangladesh side with both bat and ball. He has shown personal and cricketing maturity after he returned from a ban and that will show when he takes on Afghanistan in Sharjah.

Returning to T20Is and that too as captain after three years will give Shakib the much-needed impetus to perform well against Afghanistan and hopefull bag a win for his team.