The Bangladesh national men’s Twenty20 cricket team will start their Asia Cup 2022 campaign on Tuesday against Afghanistan. The match is crucial for the team Tigers in their quest for a Super Four berth. Bangladesh will play with less pressure in their final group stage fixture against Sri Lanka on September 1 if they can beat Afghanistan in their first match. Afghanistan, on the other hand, will secure a place in the next round if they beat Bangladesh. The Team Tigers have a tough job on hand to overcome a confident Afghan side who destroyed the Lankan side in the tournament opener. Let’s take a look at what the Bangladesh team needs to do to overcome Afghanistan.
Why is Afghanistan the top team in Group B?
The Afghanistan men’s national T20 team shocked many cricket pundits in the Asia Cup 2022 opener by beating Sri Lanka by eight wickets in a one-sided affair at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. The way Afghanistan dominated the contest was quite shocking to many.
The majority of cricket experts consider Sri Lanka the favourite in Group B to advance to the Super Four phase. But after their dismal showing against Afghanistan, they could be the first team to be eliminated from the tournament.
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Afghanistan is a dangerous Twenty20 side. However, they have a tendency to struggle when facing the world’s best opponents, which is an unjustified remark towards them. The stats indicate that Afghanistan haven’t played many matches against big opposition. If given a chance on a regular basis, the Afghan side could be able to showcase their true potential against tougher opponents.
On paper, Sri Lanka's squad in Group B has the most talented shorter-format players. However, Afghanistan have found the perfect balance in their play, which is key to winning the contest. Bangladesh, on the other hand, have arrived in the tournament with some disappointing performances in recent series and they are not in better shape at the moment. That is why Afghanistan should be considered the best team from this group.
Team Tigers captain Shakib Al Hasan didn’t reveal any particular target to the media before leaving the country. Voicing an aim would be somewhat foolish if the team is having trouble putting together a winning combination for the playing XI. Shakib knows he has to fix some areas before showing his confidence in the press conference.
Read Asia Cup: Afghanistan make flying start beating Sri Lanka by 8 wickets in opener
The Sri Lankan campaign didn’t expect that they would see a monstrous performance from the Afghanistan side. Their equation to reach the next round will become even more difficult if Bangladesh manage to beat Afghanistan in the next match of Group B. Sri Lanka will then have to beat Bangladesh by a big margin, like the way they lost to Afghanistan. The talented Lankan players need to show a ruthless and dominating performance in their last group phase match.
The Afghanistan campaign is now riding high on confidence after their brilliant performance in the fifteenth edition of the Asia Cup. Their openers were ruthless towards the Lankan bowlers, and their bowling unit choked the opposition batters by showing good discipline with the ball. If this performance is maintained, Bangladesh will find it difficult to beat them.
Things Bangladesh need to ponder before the Afghanistan clash
Making an ideal team combination is now the major concern for Bangladesh team management. Two of the confirmed players for the playing XI, Nurul Hasan and Hasan Mahmud, are out due to injuries. Mohammad Naim and Ebadot Hossain replaced them in the squad.
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The main concern is which players the Bangladesh team management would be willing to include in the playing XI. There are certain things they need to ponder before constructing a team for the massive clash against Afghanistan.
What will be the role of Bangladesh's openers?
There is no clear-cut indication from the Bangladesh team management regarding the opening pairs. But multiple sources claimed that Anamul Haque Bijoy’s position in the opening slot is likely confirmed. Shakib wants Mushfiqur Rahim to be Anamul’s opening partner. If Mushfiqur gets an opening slot, that could turn out to be a fruitful one for the team.
Mushfiqur is the most experienced player in the squad and can play spinners well. If he can give a blistering start, that would do well for the Tigers. Anamul, on the other hand, would play the anchor role by staying at the crease till the end of the innings.
Read Asia Cup 2022: Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan, Group B Match 1 preview
What should the upper middle-order do if things go south?
The chance of openers failing is a possibility since Bangladesh have yet to find an ideal opening pair in the T20 format. The upper middle-order then has a big responsibility to construct the innings in order to put up a competitive score on the board.
A partnership consisting of 10 overs would be ideal from the upper middle-order if the top order fails to deliver in the innings. Their main target would be to set the foundation for the power hitters in the lower middle order to accelerate the run rates in the death overs.
The approach of the power hitters in the death overs
The Bangladesh team management's current top concern is a lack of proper power hitters. Batting coach Jamie Siddons is working hard to teach his students some power hitting skills. How much the players have learned and their execution ability will be seen during the contest. But, Bangladesh should target a big score in order to overcome the Afghanistan side. In the death overs, batters must try to smack the ball out of the ground in search of more than 50 runs in the last five overs.
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The strategy of Bangladesh's bowling unit
Afghanistan batters are well-equipped to play strokes, as was seen in the first match of the 2022 Asia Cup Cricket. Bangladesh bowlers may find it hard to stop them if they don’t show discipline in their bowling. The team Tigers' bowlers must maintain great consistency in their bowling and shouldn’t let them have any chance to free their arms.
Since Afghan batters love to play big shots, they can be agitated if the opposition bowlers continue to deliver dot balls. Making them feel uncomfortable in the middle could be a nice strategy against them, so that they are forced to make a mistake. Besides, there is nothing better way to put the opposition batting lineup under pressure than picking up early wickets.
Afghanistan’s T20 record at Sharjah Ground is a major worry for Bangladesh
The second match of Group B between Bangladesh and Afghanistan will take place at the Sharjah Cricket Ground on August 30. This is a good hunting venue for Afghanistan. They have won 10 out of 13 matches played at the Sharjah stadium. Although they have only ever defeated weaker opponents. In contrast, Bangladesh lost the two matches they played against Sri Lanka and West Indies at this venue in the 2021 T20 World Cup.
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Afghan players have dominated the individual stats at this ground. The top three run scorers and the top three bowlers are from Afghanistan. Mohammad Shahzad is the top scorer at this ground with 430 runs, followed by Mohammad Nabi with 260 runs. Both players have more than 140 strike rates. Samiullah Shinwari leads the bowling stats with 12 wickets, while Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan both have 10 wickets each.
The Afghan players are well versed with the conditions and they can capitalize on them during the match against Bangladesh. The Tigers must first understand the nature of the Sharjah pitch and then devise an appropriate strategy.
Head-to-Head record: Bangladesh vs Afghanistan
Afghanistan have a better head-to-head T20 record against Bangladesh. The Afghan side has won five and lost three of the eight matches they have faced against the team Tigers. The two sides last met each other in a 2-match bilateral series last March, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Afghanistan even whitewashed Bangladesh in a 3-match bilateral series in June 2018.
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H2H T20I record between Bangladesh and Afghanistan
Afghanistan will start as favourites in their final Group B fixture against Bangladesh on August 30 at the Sharjah Cricket stadium. There are three reasons why Afghanistan are favourites against Bangladesh. One of the main reasons is that the Afghan T20 side has a magnificent record at the Sharjah Cricket Ground. Besides, they have a more well-balanced squad than their opposition, and their confidence level is high after a thumping win over Sri Lanka.
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Bangladesh have to overcome all the odds against their opposition to clinch their opening fixture in the Asia Cup 2022. The team Tigers have quality players in their roster to find a way to beat the Afghan side. However, the players need to be determined, the game plan in the Bangladesh vs Afgnatisnan match in Asia Cup Cricket 2022 has to be executed properly, and luck should be on Bangladesh’s side in this contest to come out as victorious.