With the series decided on Tuesday evening, Afghanistan can bask in the glory of overpowering another Test-playing nation. Having won matches against West Indies and a number of ODI and T20 series against Zimbabwe, beating Bangladesh should rank as an important step in their progress in international cricket.
But it should not cloud their minds from targeting a 3-0 whitewash. Already they have shown better decision-making and have applied their skills better in the first two games, rendering Bangladesh’s batting and late-over bowling ineffective.
Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have strangled an experienced batting line-up, and Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari and Nabi have contributed with the bat. Afghanistan would welcome more runs from Usman Ghani, Asghar Stanikzai and Najibullah Zadran, and might also look at the option of experimenting by bringing in young batsmen like Najeeb Tarakai, Darwish Rasooli and Gulbadin Naib.
Bangladesh on the other hand have looked shorn of confidence in their ability, their lack of T20 know-how rudely exposed. Whether the BCB had wanted such a test is anyone’s guess, but the cricketers have to bear most of the responsibility for such a performance.
They are a far more experienced side in international cricket than Afghanistan but there have been passages of play when they looked na ve and out of touch with the ever-changing world of T20 cricket.
Still, they would hope that the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim can motivate themselves once more to salvage some pride. What will concern them most is the performance of the younger players such as Sabbir Rahman and Mosaddek Hossain, who have struggled in particular to read Rashid’s googly.
In the spotlight
Before all the craze for Rashid Khan, one of Afghanistan’s early stars was Mohammad Nabi, who continues to be an important performer. His steady offspin and big-hitting ability have made him a viable option in T20 leagues worldwide, and his impact is magnified when he plays for Afghanistan. Nabi’s unbeaten 31 and 2 for 19 was the match-winning performance that perfectly complemented Rashid in Tuesday’s game.
Liton Das was an improved batsman during Bangladesh’s tour of South Africa last year, as well as in the Nidahas Trophy in March. He promised a little in the first game of this T20 series, but fell to a soft dismissal on Tuesday. With so much going wrong for Bangladesh, some runs from Liton would definitely be welcomed.
Having already sealed the series, Afghanistan could try out the likes of Najeeb Tarakai, Darwish Rasooli, Gulbadin Naib, Sharafuddin Ashraf and Aftab Alam. But they would also be tempted to press on with the same XI and push for a whitewash.
Afghanistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Usman Ghani, 3 Asghar Stanikzai (capt), 4 Najibullah Zadran, 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Samiullah Shenwari, 7 Shafiqullah, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Karim Janat, 10 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11 Shapoor Zadran
Bangladesh’s management could try Ariful Haque and see if he can improve their so far woeful late-overs batting. Another option is Mehdy Hasan Miraz, given the spin-friendly conditions in Dehradun, with the medium-pace of Abul Hasan and Abu Jayed looking ineffective.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Liton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Soumya Sarkar, 9 Abu Hider, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Nazmul Islam
Pitch and conditions
Spin is likely to remain hugely influential – so far, Afghanistan have bettered Bangladesh both at bowling it and batting against it. Late showers are forecast for Thursday evening.
Stats and trivia
- Liton Das took first strike in Tuesday’s game, which meant Tamim Iqbal didn’t face the first ball of the innings for the first time in his 68-match T20I career.
- Samiullah Shenwari has struck six sixes in the T20 series so far, the most he has hit in any T20I series or tournament.