The last league match of the T20I tri-nation series between hosts Bangladesh and Afghanistan is indeed a dead rubber. However, the match at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram has a lot of significance for the two sides. A victory in the encounter will help them carry the much-needed momentum to the Grand Finale on September 24 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
Both teams have won games in the series, but a few loopholes still remain that need to be sorted before the Final on Tuesday. The Afghans can be deemed as the favourites purely because of the domination they have had over the Tigers in the shortest format. In 2014, Bangladesh beat them in their first meeting in T20Is and ever since, Afghanistan have got the better of them four times.
But the home team is in a positive frame of mind after their 39-run victory over Zimbabwe that took them to the final. Another victory over the current table-toppers will boost their confidence even more. The pitch is expected to be a good for batting and hence, a fairly high-scoring match seems to be in store. The rain is unlikely to interrupt with the temperature around the 29 degrees Celsius.
The Tigers may be compelled to bring in Taijul Islam as the specialist spin-bowling option. The same is because leg-spinner Aminul Islam Biplob has developed an injury on his left hand in the last game in an attempt to stop a string shot from Hamilton Masakadza. The tweaker has got his hand bandaged after three stitches. Though it’s not his bowling hand, the youngster may not be risked.
Mustafizur Rahman has been a tad off colour and the management may try out speedster Rubel Hossain in the inconsequential match. Najmul Hossain Shanto is likely to get another game after his failure on debut. Liton Das looked good in the previous contest. Mahmudullah has been the biggest positives for the hosts in the batting lineup. Saifuddin and Shafiul have shown good form as well.
Najmul Hossain Shanto, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan (C), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman/Rubel Hossain, Taijul Islam
It goes without Afghanistan have been the most dominant team, primarily due to one man, and that’s Mohammad Nabi. The veteran is currently the leading run-scorer of the series with a top score of 84 not out versus the Tigers in Dhaka. Najibullah Zadran got a half-century against Zimbabwe and he’s in form as well. It’s time for the rest of the batting unit to lend support to Nabi and Najibullah.
Hazratullah Zazai is yet to show his best, but his opening partner Rahmanullah Gurbaz hasn’t flattered to deceive and has shown intent at the top. Najeeb Tarakai and former skipper Asghar Afghan are yet to get going. In the bowling area, Rashid has been hard to get away and he is amongst the wickets as well. Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Fareed Malik have also made breakthroughs.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Najeeb Tarakai, Asghar Afghan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat/Dawlat Zadran, Rashid Khan (C), Fareed Malik, Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Sharafuddin Ashraf
Focus will be on
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Shakib Al Hasan has picked up three wickets in the tournament, but he has tended to leak runs at times. With the bat in hand, the southpaw has clearly strained to find his rhythm. In three matches, he has only been able to score 26 runs at an average of 8.67. The Tigers depend heavily on their premier all-rounder and the Jessore-born has to bring forth his A-game before the final.
Hazratullah Zazai (Afghanistan)
Prior to the series, Hazratullah Zazai had a T20I average of over 70. Nevertheless, that had dropped a fair bit. The 21-year-old hasn’t been able to find his timing at all. In the first two matches, he got into the double figures and then threw away the starts. The threat he possesses at the top is known to all and it’s only a matter of time before the burly batter starts dominating bowling attacks.
TV – Star Sports Select 2
Match Timings – 18:00 IST and 18:30 local
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