Rashid has seven wickets in two matches so far. (Source: AP)
A supremely confident and optimistic Afghanistan will look to make a clean sweep in the third and final encounter of the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh on Thursday. Despite plying their trade in the adopted home in Dehradun, Afghanistan have risen to the challenge and already taken a 2-0 unassailable lead in the series. Cricket loving fans across the city have also joined the fervor and showered immense love on
the team and their favourite star- Rashid Khan. The 19-year-old leggie has enthralled supporters with a brilliant exhibition of leg spin bowling by picking 7 wickets in 2 matches so far. But will he repeat his feat once again to captivate the audience? Going by teammate Shafiqullah Shafiq words- led by Rashid, Afghanistan are only aiming at one result – a whitewash. “With world no 1 bowler Rashid Khan among our ranks, Afghanistan is the best team in the shortest format,” the 28-year-old T20 specialist said before emphasizing that a clean sweep is in order.
The wicket at Rajeev Gandhi International cricket stadium will continue to play slow as it has done in the past 2 matches. Hence, the tweakers from the two sides will once again play an important role. While Afghanistan’s spin troika of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have wreaked havoc by picking up 12 wickets among themselves at an economical rate, Bangladesh’s trio of skipper Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah & Mosaddek Hossain haven’t really troubled the opposition batsmen. One must also not look away from the fact that the Afghan batsmen have applied themselves better at the crease and attempted to play each ball on its merit.
But for the Tigers it is the batting unit which needs a shakeup. In the both the matches, batsmen have been guilty of trying to over attack Rashid and Nabi and thereby gifting away their wickets. This has resulted in loss of momentum during crucial stages of a match. Apart from Mushfiqur Rahim, who has managed to contribute with a couple of 20’s, seasoned T20 campaigners- Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan have all struggled for consistency. Young Abu Hider Rony, who enjoyed a good outing with the ball in the previous match, admitted at the post-match press conference that failure to read Rashid Khan had resulted in the impending doom for Bangladeshi batters. “We wanted to play him cautiously but his speed became a problem for us. The bounce was low and hence his deliveries were skidding through. Hence, the batsmen couldn’t execute their plans correctly,” Rony explained.
Meanwhile, if Afghanistan can indeed whitewash the Tigers then going into their first ever Test match next week, one thing they will have in abundance is the belief and conviction to do well against the best Test team in the world.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai(c), Mohammad Shahzad(w), Usman Ghani, Samiullah Shenwari, , Mohammad Nabi, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam, Najeeb Tarakai, Darwish Rasooli, Hazratullah Zazai, Gulbadin Naib, Sharafuddin Ashraf.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan(c), Mushfiqur Rahim(w), Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mosaddek Hossain, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Abu Jayed, Abul Hasan, Ariful Haque
- Rashid Khan