Will Bangladesh finally win Asian title?
Bangladesh, runners-up of 2012 ODI Asia Cup and 2016 T20I Asia Cup, have another chance to claim their first major tournament trophy. Their growth in ODI format has put more expectations on them in the upcoming Asia Cup 2018.
The men in red and green made into the finals only once (ODI). They succumbed a 2-run heartbreaking loss in the final against Pakistan in Mirpur six years back. They were the runners-up of the first-ever T20I Asia Cup two years back at home.
The Tigers have made a significant improvement to their ODI performance in last three-four years. Although they struggled in overseas, they recently completed a 2-1 series victory over Windies in the Caribbean. It was their first series win in nearly two years.
The series win in the Caribbean has certainly boosted Bangladesh’s confidence under their new head coach Steve Rhodes, the Englishman who further worked with the players regarding their strengths and weaknesses before the Asia Cup.
The five pillars – Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad are the key players to succeed in the Asia Cup. There were vital contributions from the seniors in the series win in Windies. Tamim himself scored two centuries on that tour. A lot depends on Shakib, who is not exactly 100% fit. He is due to undergo finger surgery. Despite that all eyes will be on Bangladesh’s golden boy.
The likes of Mustafizur Rahman and Mominul Haque have real opportunity to show what they can do. The Fizz has got fitter. He is once again required to add some fizz to Bangladesh team. Mominul was called into the team at the last moment following his performance for Bangladesh A.
Leg-spin is a major concern for Bangladesh. They not only have insufficient leg-spinners but also face problems playing the leggies. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, India’s Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be troubling the Tigers. Moreover, Bangladesh badly need juniors to step up. Liton Das showed good form in the T20Is against Windies. He is most likely to be picked as second opener. It could be his chance to settle Bangladesh’s unsettled opening partnership.
Group B’s Bangladesh will face Sri Lanka in the tournament opener in Dubai on September 15. They will take on emerging Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on September 20. Bangladesh won one ODI against Sri Lanka in a tri-series match this year. On the other side of the coin, they suffered 0-3 defeat to Afghanistan in a T20I series last June.
Bangladesh squad: Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (captain), Shakib Al Hasan (vice-captain}, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Kumar Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam Apu, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Mominul Haque
Group B- versus Sri Lanka, Dubai, September 15
Group B- versus Afghanistan, Abu Dhabi, September 20