Sports desk: Bangladesh will take on Afghanistan in the first game of the three-match T20 International series at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun today. The visitors will go into the match slightly down morally after conceding yesterday’s crushing eight-wicket practice match defeat to Afghanistan XI, a team which was without their star spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, however, believes that his players are able to hit back, shrugging off the failure in the practice game.
“Hopefully, we’ll come back strongly,” said Shakib. “We need to gain the momentum and the first match will be crucial. I hope we will not repeat the mistakes that we have committed in the practice game,” added the Tiger captain.
Though eighth-placed Afghanistan are ahead of Bangladesh in the T20I rankings, there are not much separating the two teams. They have faced each other in the shortest format only once and that was back in the 2014 World T20 where Bangladesh defeated Afghanistan by nine wickets.
The team from the war-torn nation has come a long way since that tournament and is now capable of surprising even the top teams in the shorter formats.
While star spinner Rashid Khan will hold the key for Afghanistan, Bangladesh will rely heavily on their inspirational skipper Shakib Al Hasan.
The Tigers, however, are bound to suffer in the pace department as they have began their tour without their lead pacer Mustafizur Rahman. Mustafiz has been ruled out of the series against Afghanistan at the eleventh hour because of his toe injury. Afghanistan also lost their key fast bowler Dawlat Zadran to injury.