Afghanistan look to clear Bangladesh hurdle for maiden semi-final spot


Afghanistan vs Bangladesh
June 24, Kingstown, 8:30pm local

Big picture – scrap for the semi-finals

The equation will become clearer for Afghanistan and Bangladesh at least six hours before they strap on their boots for the last Group 1 match of the Super Eight phase of the men’s T20 World Cup 2024.
This is, however, a defeated Bangladesh side, possibly playing their last game of the World Cup after two meek defeats against India and Australia.
It has been another dream run for Afghanistan in a World Cup. They had fought hard in the 50-over tournament in India last year, only to finish in sixth place. This time, they have roared through the group stage, and although there were hiccups against West Indies and India, Afghanistan’s landmark win against Australia has put them right back into contention for the semi-finals.
Openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran complement each other, and they added their third century stand of the competition against Australia. That Afghanistan did not rely solely on their spinners in their historic win was also pleasing for them. Gulbadin Naib, who has bowled in only three out of 11 T20I matches this year, stunned Australia with a four-for, with Naveen-ul-Haq chipping in with three. This sort of performance frees up Rashid Khan from always having to deliver the knockout punches while also keeping things tight.
Afghanistan face a familiar opponent in Bangladesh, who won their last bilateral T20I series in July last year. However, Bangladesh’s batting has struggled significantly at this T20 World Cup. The top order has the lowest collective average among the Super Eight teams. Their middle-order is also showing signs of wear and tear, which has led the team management to tinker with the fast-bowling line-up to bring in the extra batter.

Bangladesh struggled to put up a fight against Australia and India, and they are known to taper off at the end of long tours. They, however, have a point to prove before the tournament ends.

Bangladesh LLWWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Afghanistan WLLWW

In the spotlight – Gulbadin Naib and Shakib Al Hasan

Gulbadin Naib was the eighth bowler against Australia, but he ended up taking his maiden four-wicket haul in T20Is in that game. He has been around for 12 years now and only recently made his IPL debut for Delhi Capitals. Needless to say, he is high on confidence.
By his standards, this year’s T20 World Cup has mostly been a forgettable one for Shakib Al Hasan. He has scored one half-century, while it took him four matches to get his first wicket. Shakib became the first bowler in the tournament’s history to reach 50 wickets, but has only taken three at an average of 37 in this edition. He hasn’t batted high enough and Shakib’s bowling too hasn’t been properly utilised. Could this be Shakib’s swansong in the T20 World Cup?

Team news – Bangladesh might bring Taskin or Shoriful back

Bangladesh could go back to Taskin Ahmed or Shoriful Islam to replace Jaker Ali. Afghanistan are likely to go in unchanged at the same venue where they beat Australia.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tanzid Hasan, 2 Litton Das (wk), 3 Najmul Hosain Shanto (capt), 4 Towhid Hridoy, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Jaker Ali/Taskin Ahmed/Shoriful Islam, 8 Rishad Hossain, 9 Mahedi Hasan, 10 Tanzim Hasan, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Azmatullah Omarzai, 4 Karim Janat, 5 Rashid Khan (capt), 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Gulbadin Naib, 8 Nangeyalia Kharote, 9 Noor Ahmad, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi

Teams batting first have won every game in Arnos Vale, including Bangladesh defending 106 against Nepal. Afghanistan will also have a fair measure of the pitches after their 21-run win against Australia. Weather, however, may not be great as there’s some rain forecast.

“It’s a nice feeling to have that fact that we’re playing the last game as well. You will know exactly what the scenario is and then what’s needed to win. That’s always a nice feeling. But I think with cricket, so many things are thrown in and so many results can go against you or for you. So, we’ve just got to focus on our match against Bangladesh and when all the other matches are played. We’ll know what we need to do and the decisions we need to make.”
Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott

“One thing you’ve got to acknowledge is you can’t fight genetics. You have to have a genetic predisposition to power initially. But power is something that takes a lot of time. If you’re not predisposed to being strong… West Indians don’t have to find power. They’re born with power. We’re not born with power, so we have to do it a different way. We’re looking at the strength and conditioning element, we’re looking at different things of how we can do it a Bangladeshi way.”
Bangladesh assistant coach Nic Pothas

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