Mushfiqur Rahim has impelled Bangladesh to employ caution against Afghanistan's spinners when the two teams meet each other next month. Afghanistan are set to host Bangladesh for three T20 internationals before their historic maiden Test, against India, and Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are set to feature significantly in the series.
While the two teams have faced each other only once, and their last international meeting in any format was in 2016, Rashid is a regular in the BPL, where 12 of his 19 wickets are of Bangladesh batsmen, including Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur. Mujeeb made his BPL debut last year, while others such as Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Shahzad are regulars in Bangladesh's domestic cricket.
Having lost to them twice in six international encounters, Mushfiqur acknowledged the threat the Afghanistan side brings. "Afghanistan is a dangerous team in T20s. A lot of things are in their favour in this series, particularly the home advantage," he said. "But we have to use the confidence from the previous series in Sri Lanka. We beat Sri Lanka in their home venue and also did quite well against India.
"As Tamim said recently, they have a number of world-class bowlers who are doing well in the IPL. Rashid Khan is a world-class bowler. He hasn't conceded more than 6 or 7 an over in all but one IPL game this season. I am personally working on certain run-scoring shots. You can't just play out a single bowler in T20s, so we must also execute our team plan. Apart from Rashid Khan, Mujeeb bowls with the new ball. But we have some high-quality batsmen. If they click, this will be a good series."
Mushfiqur, who had been in good form in the Nidahas Trophy and later in the domestic one-day and first-class competitions, was, however, contended to see the rise in T20 fixtures for Bangladesh.
"We are essentially playing back-to-back T20s in a span of two-and-a-half months, which is quite different from the usually long gap between T20s," he said. "But to be honest, Afghanistan is a bigger challenge than playing T20s. The last time they toured Bangladesh, we lost against them, although it was in the ODIs."
The Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun is set to host an international match for the first time, and Mushfiqur hoped to make the most of the June 1 practice match to acclimatise to the conditions.
"I have heard that it is a good stadium, although the ICC hasn't given the approval. Some have said the heat may be an issue, but we did play in Sri Lanka's heat. I think the only challenge could be the unknown stadium. We have virtually no idea about the pitches there. But we hope to quickly adjust through the practice match."