Afghanistan will be locking horns with Bangladesh in the third match of Asia Cup 2022 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday, August 30. The Afghans will be oozing with confidence, having handed a brutal eight-wicket defeat to the five-time champions, Sri Lanka, in the curtain-raiser, and would be hoping to top their group with yet another clinical performance.
Afghanistan outplayed Sri Lanka in all departments in the opening game by first bowling them out for 105 and then chasing down the target in just the 11th over. The Mohammad Nabi-led side have made a strong statement and Bangladesh must be very cautious when they begin their Asia Cup campaign. Bangladesh, on the other hand, might have finished as the runners-up in the previous two editions of the Asia Cup, but their performances in the T20Is have been lackluster in the last 10 months and they would now be hoping for a revival in fortunes with veteran all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan named the new captain in the shortest format until the T20 World Cup down under.
As Afghanistan look forward to register their second straight win in the ongoing Asia Cup, they would be fielding the same XI that had played against Sri Lanka, and without further ado, here’s a look at the Afghan XI against Bangladesh.
Openers: Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk)
The onus would yet again be on the dynamic opening duo of Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz to provide a brisk start for Afghanistan as they had done in the last game against Sri Lanka. Zazai remained unbeaten on 37 runs from 28 deliveries and was involved in an 83-run opening stand with Gurbaz.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz on the other hand toyed around with the Sri Lankan bowlers and single-handedly looked to get the job done chasing a manageable total. He scored a quickfire 18-ball 40 and would now be looking to play another impactful knock against an unpredictable Bangladesh outfit.
Middle Order: Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, and, Najibullah Zadran
The Afghan middle-order remained untested against Sri Lanka, but they have a lot of reputation when it comes to power-hitting in the T20Is. Ibrahim Zadran can be a handy middle-order batter and he showed his caliber in the bilateral series against Ireland.
Karim Janat is a handy middle-order batter for the Afghans and the youngster has so far scored 345 runs from 37 T20Is including a half-century at an average of 17.25 and a strike rate of 113.49. He would be hoping to make the most of his chances count against Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Najibullah Zadran is among the most lethal batters in the shortest batters for Afghanistan. Zadran can be a vital number-four batter and has the ability to clear the fence at will with his fierce hitting techniques. At the same time, he is also an accomplished batter in the shortest format, averaging 33.04 and batting with a strike rate of 141.75.
All-Rounders: Mohammad Nabi (c) and Rashid Khan
Afghanistan T20I skipper Mohammad Nabi has the potential to be a match-winner with both the bat and the ball. While his lethal spin bowling can rattle any batting line-up, his brilliance in the middle-order can be a match-defining one. Moreover, Nabi has experience in playing franchise leagues across the globe. He was also effective against Sri Lanka, finishing with figures of 2/14 at the economy rate of 3.5.
Rashid Khan might have gone wicketless in the last game, but he is also known for his deadly leg-spin and being an impactful batter lower down the order with the ability to play match-winning knocks in the middle and death overs. Just like Nabi, even he has played franchise cricket all over the world and can be a difference maker for Afghanistan on any given day.
Bowlers: Azmatullah Omarzai, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi
Azmatullah Omarzai might have gone wicketless against Sri Lanka, but the selectors and the team management would be banking on him to come good against Bangladesh. He leaked 20 runs in the only over that he got to bowl and would be eager to prove a point if he gets another opportunity.
Naveen-ul-Haq picked up the wicket of Lankan opener Pathum Nissanka and now would be hoping to showcase an improved performance against Bangladesh in the next match. The 22-year-old is seen as Afghanistan’s future pace superstar.
Mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman has been out of touch for a while, but it is just a matter of time before he once again rediscovers the art of bamboozling the world-class batters. He broke Sri Lanka’s backbone in the opening game with figures of 2/24 at an economy of exactly six.
Fazalhaq Farooqui has already created a name for himself in franchise cricket and even played his first IPL season for the Sunrisers Hyderabad earlier this year. The 21-year-old destroyed the Sri Lankan batting line-up in the previous fixture with match-winning figures of 3/11 from his 3.4 overs at an impressive economy of three including a maiden. Farooqui was also adjudged the Player of the Match for his outstanding bowling spell.
Here’s Afghanistan’s predicted playing XI: Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, and, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (c) Rashid Khan, Azmatullah Omarzai, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi.