Second and final group B leg match of the ACC Asia Cup scheduled to be held today at Zayed Cricket Stadium at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The match kicks off at 5.30pm Bangladesh Time. After cementing the Super Four stage, knocking out Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will play the last league fixture in Abu Dhabi. The incentive is that the winners will stay in Abu Dhabi while the losing team will have to move to Dubai in less than 12 hours to face the table-toppers from Group A the next day.
The Tigers have some injury concerns as ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan(finger injury) and Mushfiqur Rahim (rib injury) could be rested for Thursdays match against Afghanistan along with skipper Mashrafe Mortaza.
In that case, the likes of Abu Hider, Nazmul Islam and Ariful Haque will look to gain more exposure ahead of bigger challenges.
Bangladesh have a slight 3-2 advantage over Afghanistan when it comes to head-to-head record. While In their most recent ODI clash Bangladesh outplayed Afghanistan by 141 runs.
It was the final game of the three-match series played at Dhaka back in 2016. Electing to bat first, Bangladesh scored 279/8 and then wrapped up Afghanistans innings for just 138 runs.
Nazmul Hossain Shanto could open for Bangladesh in place of the injured Tamim Iqbal while Mominul Haque, Abu Hider, Nazmul Islam and Ariful Haque could get some game-time in place of the seniors.
On the other hand, Afghanistan is showing an impressive form in the fifty-over format with seven wins in their last eight ODIs.
Their only defeat in those matches came against Ireland at Belfast last month. In their most recent Asia Cup encounter against Sri Lanka on 17 September, Afghanistan put up a decent batting performance to score 249 before displaying a fabulous bowling performance to dismiss their opponents for 158 inside 42 overs.
Rahmat Shahs 72 off 90 balls against Sri Lanka in the previous match backed up a solid start from the openers and allowed the big-hitters to go after the bowlers in the end overs.
Captain Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran, meanwhile, will look to make more substantial contributions with the bat, while Hashmatullah Shahidi, who made 37 against Sri Lanka, will hope to capitalise on such starts.
But the key will be the three spinners – Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Nabi. Bangladesh had a hard time against Rashid in the three T20Is in June this year. Can they find a way past him in the UAE?
Mohammad Mithun made a confident 63 against Sri Lanka and helped Mushfiqur push the total beyond 250. Mithun has plenty of domestic and A team experience, but can he be consistent in international cricket and secure his middle-order position?
Rahmat Shah, who top scored with 72 against Sri Lanka, has played the Dhaka Premier League, and will be a familiar opponent for most of the Bangladesh players.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Liton Das 2 Nazmul Hossain Shanto, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Mohammad Mithun, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 10 Rubel Hossain and 11 Mustafizur Rahman.
Afghanistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wicket keeper), 2 Ihsanullah, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Asghar Afghan (capt), 5 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Aftab Alam and 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman.