Both teams are coming off a lean trot in T20Is, but the visitors like the format, while the hosts don’t
Afghanistan will be happy with action shifting to the two-match T20I series that begins in Dhaka on Thursday, but Bangladesh might feel differently; they have started to dread the format in recent times. Bangladesh have lost their last eight T20Is, and although Afghanistan didn’t cover themselves in glory in the T20 World Cup last year, everyone agrees that they love T20s, and they have the personnel for it.
With Naveen-ul-Haq also absent, they will also have a new-look pace attack, with Karim Janat and Omarzai in the mix as the allrounders. Their main strength, as always, will be the spin trio of Rashid Khan, Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and now they also have Qais Ahmad, who did well in the BPL.
The selectors have included Munim Shahriar, the big-hitting opener who made a good first impression in this season’s BPL.
But getting rid of Shamim Hossain and Nurul Hasan does seem hasty, given that they were growing into the finishers’ role. That will now go back to Mahmudullah, who would expect Yasir Ali and Afif Hossain to help him out in the last few overs.
How Bangladesh shape their pace attack might be interesting too. They may want to look at Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam up front, with Mustafizur Rahman the floater, so to say, to attack Rahmanullah Gurbaz, but that could be at the cost of an extra batter.
Bangladesh LLLLL (Last five completed matches; most recent first)
In the spotlight
Shakib and Litton will slot into the XI, while Shahriar could make his international debut. Mushfiqur Rahim picked up a finger injury during training on Wednesday and will miss the match. Nurul Hasan* was added to the squad overnight and could come in straightaway.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Litton Das, 2 Munim Shahriar, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Nurul Hasan (wk), 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Yasir Ali, 7 Afif Hossain, 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Nasum Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Rasooli and Omarzai could make their T20I debuts looking at how Afghanistan have been looking at making changes and giving their team a fresh look.
Afghanistan (probable): 1 Hazratullah Zazai, 2 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 3 Darwish Rasooli, 4 Najibullah Zadran, 5 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 6 Azmatullah Omarzai, 7 Karim Janat, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 10 Fazalhaq Farooqi, 11 Farid Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
It will be interesting to see if the Shere Bangla National Stadium’s curator Gamini Silva avoids laying out a turner, something he is used to doing even for T20s. Chattogram had a grassy pitch that worked against the Afghanistan spinners, so Dhaka could also go that way. Dry weather is forecast.
Stats and trivia
* 5.30GMT, March 3: The preview has been updated to reflect Mushfiqur Rahim’s unavailability
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84