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Focus on Rashid ahead of tri-series final

24 Sep 2019 CricBuzz

Bangladesh put aside a stat that wouldn't have made them very happy about when they beat Afghanistan by four wickets when the teams clashed two days ago. They hadn't beaten Afghanistan in their last four games in T20Is and looked like they were headed down a similar path when they were reduced to 12/2 in a modest chase. However, a Shakib Al Hasan masterclass helped them arrest the slide, forcing Afghanistan to their second successive loss in the series, who at the start looked favourites to make the final unbeaten.

A flurry of wickets in the back-half of the game in their games against Zimbabwe, first, and then Bangladesh, derailed their efforts of setting a large total. That, after their top order had given them starts in both games with opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz being at the top of the run charts in the series. Both teams eventually chased it down with relative ease, as Afghanistan were dented in confidence.

To make matters worse, skipper and their vital cog Rashid Khan picking up a hamstring injury in that last game has set them back further. Rashid, the No.1-ranked T20I bowler, hobbled off, but returned a while later to take the ball and strike immediately. It seemed like he aggravated the injury in a fielding attempting soon after, thus casting a cloud of doubt over his availability for the final. Bangladesh will be without their all-rounder, Aminul Islam, who made his debut earlier in the series after sustaining a finger injury in his first game in national colours after picking up two wickets in his maiden outing. However, they have enough personnel to fill in. Yet, despite it all, much depends on Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmadullah, who have been among the runs this series.

Head coach Russell Domingo blatantly stated that they haven't found their perfect game yet, so far. The final will be when he will want his wards to step up. For Afghanistan, having their players leading the run-scoring and wicket-taking charts will give them some confidence. But slipping to two losses in a row will be on their mind, nevertheless.

Bangladesh needed to bounce back from the embarrassing Test defeat to Afghanistan. After being trounced handsomely in the one-off game, they needed to make amends in the tri-series. And they did so by setting up a date with Afghanistan in the final. Having beaten them already in the dress-rehearsal, in the last league-stage game, they would hope to do so one more time. After all, it's about pride. For Bangladesh, it'll be about ascertaining their dominance at home. While Afghanistan would want to leave those shores victorious.

What: Bangladesh vs Afghanistan, Final

When: Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Where: Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka

What to expect: Thunderstorms are forecast through the day tomorrow. A couple of showers in the day, to the possibility of thunderstorms later in the evening. The toss will be crucial if it comes down to a rain-interrupted game.

Team news:

Bangladesh: Bangladesh will most likely be without the services of their batting all rounder, Aminul Islam. Aminul, on debut, was hit on his finger by a forceful shot from Hamilton Masakadza. While he misses out, the head coach also reckoned that they will add another pace option to their 12-man squad, factoring in that the pacers caused the Afghanistan top order trouble. In which case, Rubel Hossain may be named.

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan is in doubt for the summit clash. In case he misses out, Sharafuddin Ashraf may play his first game of the series.

What they said:

"We haven't played the perfect game of cricket yet. We have been good in certain areas and average in certain areas. We are still trying to find the perfect game." - Russell Domingo, Bangladesh's head coach.

"We won two and lost two in the league phase. We have to take positives from it. Those things are gone. We have to focus on the final tomorrow." - Rashid Khan, Afghanistan's skipper.


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