Daijiworld Media Network
Fatullah, Mar 1: Hello and welcome to the match between Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Having lost their opening matches, both teams have to win this if they are to stay alive in the tournament. The hosts started off well in their game against India, as they posted 279 on the board. However, bowling under lights and with dew also coming in, they were not able to defend that and also a record partnership between Kohli and Rahane thwarted their chance of victory. Mushfiqur scored a hundred and Bangladesh will look up to him to lead the way again. They were jolted a big blow though as Mashrafe was ruled out of the Asia Cup as he suffered a side strain in the match against India.
Afghanistan like their opponents today started well as they had Pakistan reeling at 117/6, but Umar Akmal hit a fabulous hundred and set them a target of 249 which was way beyond their reach. However, a new day and a different opponent must boost their confidence.
Bangladesh have won the toss and have opted to field.
Nabi: 'We have no problems in batting first. It looks like a good batting wicket and we will try to put a decent total on the board. Karim Sadiq and Hamid Hasan are playing today.'
Rahim: 'We will bowl first. I took medication and I am fit enough to play. We are playing an extra spinner and there will be a bit of dew in the evening. Mashrafe is a champion bowler but we have good bowlers to do the job.'
Bangladesh (Playing XI): Shamsur Rahman, Anamul Haque(w), Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim(c), Nasir Hossain, Naeem Islam, Ziaur Rahman, Sohag Gazi, Abdur Razzak, Arafat Sunny, Rubel Hossain
Afghanistan (Playing XI): Mohammad Shahzad(w), Karim Sadiq, Asghar Stanikzai, Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Nabi(c), Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Hamza Hotak
Pitch Report: 'The grass has been shaved off. The ball will not come onto bat with no grass on the wicket. It will be a slow and low pitch. With dew being a huge factor the captains would like to put the opposition in.
Spinners are going to play a key role and 270 is the par total on the board', says Arun Lal.
Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the weakest teams on paper in the Asia Cup and expectedly lost their first games to two other Asian powerhouses - while India crushed Bangladesh by six wickets, Afghanistan fell short of their target against Pakistan by 72 runs.
However, what stood out from both minnows were their fighting qualities. Mushfiqur Rahim and Anamul Haque helped the hosts set India a challenging 280 while Afghanistan reduced Pakistan to 116/6 before Umar Akmal's century powered the defending champions to a respectable total.
When Bangladesh take on Afghanistan on Saturday, it will be therefore, an interesting tussle. Bangladesh have had limited success despite a long presence in the international status while the Afghans have made a mark with their spirited bowling and dynamic fielding. Bangladesh have a strong batting line-up and it would be a good contest against Afghanistan's bowling attack.
Not many had expected Afghanistan's bowlers to trouble Pakistan, despite their brittle batting but the newest entrants in the big boys' club have shown they would not be mere pushovers.
The hosts, already without Tamim Iqbal and Shakib-al-Hasan (who will be eligible to play after the Saturday game, having served out a three-match ban), were dealt a big jolt when senior pacer Mashrafe Mortaza was ruled out of the tournament with side strains.
However, Bangladesh, won't be an easy proposition to face - they never are at home. They had reached the final of the Asia Cup two years ago after defeating India and Sri Lanka and had given a Pakistan a real scare in the title clash. Rest assured, it will be a battle worthy of cricket loves from both countries.