afghanistan cricket team
Afghanistan defeat Bangladesh in the group stage (AFP Photo)

Afghanistan might have suffered their first defeat at the Asia Cup 2018 but even in that, they have shown how far they have come and that they are not just at the tournament to make up the numbers. After handing big defeats to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Group B, they began their Super Four stage campaign with a last-over finish – a three-wicket defeat that left Aftab Alam in tears.

They next face Bangladesh on Sunday in and of the two sides who are coming after defeats from their respective last matches, it’s Afghanistan who start as favourites. And it’s not just because of the manner in which they bossed over Bangladesh whose Asia Cup journey began with a bang as they handed a thrashing to six-time champions Sri Lanka but since have seen their campaign derail on account of twin batting failures and injury to Tamim Iqbal.

Bangladesh have experienced first-hand what the spin pair of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman is capable of and will need their top-order to fire on all cylinders to keep their hopes of making the final alive.

Date: September 23, 2018

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Time: 17:00 IST

Weather: Clear and sunny with a high of 38°C

Team News

Afghanistan
They don’t have to tinker with their combination. However, a little more consistency from their top-order would do them a world of good. Their middle order led by Hashmatullah Shahidi, who has 192 runs from three matches, has been the batting engine. Bowling is their strength, Rashid and Mujeeb being their ace performers with the ball.

Probable XI
1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Ihsanullah, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Asghar Afghan (captain), 5 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Aftab Alam, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Bangladesh
Since their dominating performance in the tournament opener, Bangladesh’s form has dipped massively. They lost to Afghanistan by 136 runs and then to India by seven wickets. In both the clashes, they failed to score 200. Clearly, the batting is weighing them down. The openers have time and again failed – Against Sri Lanka they were out within the first over, against Afghanistan they lasted 4.5 overs, against India they managed 5.1 overs.

A panic-stricken Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) called-up Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar as backups without even consulting Mashrafe Mortaza on Friday. But will they walk into the playing XI in a crucial match?

Probable XI

1 Liton Das/Imrul Kayes, 2 Nazmul Hossain Shanto/Soumya Sarkar, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mohammad Mithun, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), 9 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Quote
“You cannot ask bowlers to defend 170 in a 50 over match, so I think our batsmen have to take more responsibility. One match can change everything.” Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza after India defeat.