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The Preview by Alan Gardner in Chittagong
March 19, 2014
March 20, 2014
Start time 1530 local (0930 GMT)
Big PictureWhile neither side is officially out of the tournament yet, Afghanistan and Nepal are almost certainly playing only for pride in their final Group A game. Moreover, as their match is the first of the day, they won't know what would be required in the event of Bangladesh making a colossal mess against Hong Kong (and with Afghanistan's NRR currently -1.271, even Kabir Khan's assessment that they have a 1% chance looks a bit generous).
Nepal are like everyone's favourite new band, winning plaudits for their style, resilience and passion for the game. They have recorded a famous win and put on a creditable display against a fired-up Bangladesh. Now, they face one of their bogey sides, the hard nuts of the Associate world who still seem a little sore from falling heavily at the first hurdle in this World T20.
Mohammad Nabi knew his side's best chance of making the Super 10 stage lay in mugging Bangladesh in their own manor for the second time in a month and he has seemed a little deflated since that plan went awry. Victory over Hong Kong was comfortable but nowhere near the crushing margin required, despite Shafiqullah's disdainful six-hitting at the end. A win over Nepal will confirm their international status, but they are desperate for more.
Victory for Nepal would keep them in contention to progress, with their position in second place buoyed by a thumping win over Hong Kong, but they will be facing an opponent who has held the whip-hand in most of their recent encounters. Given Bangladesh's furious form so far, it is likely to be academic.
Afghanistan WLLLW Nepal LWWLW
Watch out for
Dawlat Zadran has already forced Shakib Al Hasan and Mark Chapman into a tangle with his bouncer so far and he has certainly got some wheels, regularly clocking over 140kph. One of Afghanistan's most confrontational bowlers, it will be interesting to see if he tries to engage with the normally serene Nepal batsmen.
With his skip to the crease and low-slung left-arm action, energetic fielding and eye-catching celebrations, Shakti Gauchan has become one of the most recognisable of Nepal's players. He suffered some punishment against Bangladesh but should find the more spin-wary Afghanistan batsmen an enjoyable challenge to bowl to.
Ashgar Stanikzai came in against Hong Kong but his anchoring innings threatened to weigh his side down. Either one of the experienced pair of Nawroz Mangal and Karim Sadiq could return. Mirwais Ashraf provides an option to beef up the seam attack.
Afghanistan (possible): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Najeeb Tarakai, 3 Najibullah Zadran, 4 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 5 Shafiqullah, 6 Karim Sadiq, 7 Gulbadin Naib, 8 Samiullah Shenwari, 9 Hamza Hotak, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Shapoor Zadran
Nepal have shown faith with their top order. The openers have been asked to attack before patiently building from Nos. 3 to 5. They could not finish off either of their previous two innings in style, and Binod Bhandari could make way after scores of 1 and 0 from 4 balls so far.
Nepal (possible): 1 Subash Khakurel (wk), 2 Sagar Pun, 3 Gyanendra Malla, 4 Paras Khadka (capt), 5 Sharad Vesawkar, 6 Binod Bhandari, 7 Naresh Budayair, 8 Basant Regmi, 9 Shakti Gauchan, 10 Sompal Kami, 11 Jitendra Mukhiya
Pitch and conditionsThere is goodly pace in the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury surface, with a couple of different strips used so far to mitigate against wear. Dew will be less of a factor in the afternoon game.There was a spell of rain on Wednesday afternoon, after a brief period of windy weather. The showers did not affect the ground conditions as the stadium has good drainage facilities.
Stats and trivia
"We have good-quality fast bowlers, we train them like that, they are aggressive and everybody knows that our fast-bowling attack is very good, especially at Associate standard."
Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan wants his quicks to keep coming on strong
"The only chance for us is for Bangladesh to lose to Hong Kong. We can't control that but we want to win and end with four points."
Nepal coach Pubudu Dassanayake is keen to focus on the job in hand
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Alan Gardner
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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