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Asia Cup 2018 : Bangladesh, Afghanistan fight to stay alive

Mirages are a common phenomenon in the Greater Middle East, and Afghanistan discovered it in a harsh and heartbreaking manner in their Super Four game against Pakistan. It was a case of so near yet so far. The giant killers had Pakistan under their spell but failed to deliver the killer blow. In hindsight, a few loose balls went against them but cricket has never entertained the 'ifs'.

Bangladesh on other hand were trounced by 7 wickets by India in their first Super Four encounter. Poor scheduling, injuries and form has all gone against them. Murphy's law and its several variants seems to be working overtime against Bangladesh.

Afghanistan have not got their combination wrong but their seamers seemed ineffective for a large part during their defence of 258. Gulbadin Naib and Aftab Alam did not threaten much under lights and that is their only supposed chink in the armour. The likes of Ihsanullah Janat, Asghar Afghan, Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi will again shoulder the batting department whereas Mohammad Nabi will look to exhibit his batting prowess after a quiet start to the tourney.

Bangladesh have been handicapped at the top of the batting order with both Liton Das and Nazmul Hossain failing to enter double digits after Tamim bowed out due to injury. Against India, the entire batting order imploded thanks to poor shot selections and they would guard against that versus Afghanistan. Mashrafe Mortaza has looked bland and Rubel Hossain is yet to make a mark as well. Shakib has hit top form with the ball but has to do more with the bat to cover up for the absence of Tamim.

On current form, Afghanistan hold the edge over Bangladesh but, when has cricket entertained 'buts' either.

When: September 23, 2018, 3:30 PM Local Time, 5:00 PM IST

Where: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

What to expect: If the conditions at Abu Dhabi can be personalized, it would look similar to a pressure cooker. The heat and humidity is still not expected to douse the energy of the fans who would throng the stadium.

Team News:

Bangladesh: Bangladesh have sought help from the likes of Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes as they have been asked to join the squad. However, skipper Mashrafe was unaware of this which further defines the state of chaos that Bangladesh cricket is in. Murphy's laws just usurped another victim. Mohammad Mithun and Rubel Hossain because of their scanty bargains might miss the bus as well.

Probable XI: Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar/Nazmul Hossain, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim(w), Mohammad Mithun/Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Rubel Hossain/Abu Hider, Mustafizur Rahman

Afghanistan: Afghanistan on the other hand just need to tighten up their pace bowling attack but the reserves won't be tested in a do-or-die game like this.

Probable XI: Mohammad Shahzad(w), Ihsanullah Janat, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan(c), Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman

What they said:

"Middle-order batsmen have to build the innings when a wicket falls early. It is difficult to always expect from the middle-order. Losing two [early] wickets in such matches creates a lot of pressure on the middle order" - Mashrafe Mortaza

Source: cricbuzz

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