Afghanistan v Bangladesh
Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun
Sunday 3 June; 2:30pm GMT, 8:00pm local
According to ICC, Afghanistan are set to make their historic Test debut later this month against India in Bengaluru. However, before their much-awaited Test assignment, they will ‘host’ Bangladesh for a three-match Twenty20 International series in their newly adopted second ‘home ground’ in India, the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun.
Currently, Afghanistan are eighth in the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Team Rankings, two slots above 10th-ranked Bangladesh.
The teams have met only once before in a T20I, during the ICC World T20 2014, which Bangladesh won with ease.
However, Afghanistan are a totally different side now. Their strength in the spin department, which will be led by Rashid Khan, the No.1 T20I bowler. Rashid cast his spell in the Indian Premier League and also took two wickets for the World XI side in the Hurricane Relief T20 Challenge match on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh will bank on the experience of Tamim Iqbal, who was also a part of the World XI, Mushfiqur Rahim, captain Shakib Al Hasan and Soumya Sarkar.
Asghar Stanikzai will be leading a comparatively young Afghanistan side. Their main problem is in their batting unit, where a lot will depend on Mohammad Shahzad and Stanikzai.
For Bangladesh, the concern is their bowling. They will be missing the guile of Mustafizur Rahman, with the paceman out injured. Much will rest on Al Hasan and how the others step up to face a formidable challenge.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan): His T20I ranking speaks for him. He recently finished another IPL season for Sunrisers Hyderabad on a high note, ending the tournament with 21 wickets. Not only that, he also scored runs at a strike rate of 190.32. For Bangladesh, that will be an added challenge – they have to not only face the best T20I bowler, but also to stop him from making merry with the bat.
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh): Rashid’s IPL teammate, Shakib, who is also in good form, will be a key player with both bat and ball. A lot will also come down to his leadership. He ended his IPL tournament with 239 runs and 14 wickets, and Bangladesh will want their new T20I captain to carry the same form in the series against Afghanistan.
The forecast looks promising with low chance of rain. The temperature is expected to hover around 34°C in the day, and it will be mostly sunny, followed by a cooler evening. The pitch is expected to aid spin.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Asghar Stanikzai (c), Najeeb Tarakai, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Usman Ghani, Samiullah Shenwari, Darwish Rasooli, Karim Janat, Shapoor Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan(c), Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Abu Hider Rony, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Islam, Soumya Sarkar, Ariful Haque, Abu Jayed, Abul Hasan