September 25, 2016
Start time 1430 local (0830GMT)
Bangladesh and Afghanistan head into the first of three ODIs in Mirpur with different objectives. Afghanistan,playing in their first-ever bilateral series against Bangladesh, will be eager to extend their good form across formats in 2016 - they have won 14 out of 23 matches this year. With a young squad that has a number of senior players making way, they would want to more than just compete.
Bangladesh haven't played international cricket since the World T20 in March-April. Their last ODI came more than 10 months ago. Considering they did so well in ODIs in 2015 - they qualified for the World Cup quarter-finals apart from series wins at home against Pakistan, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe - the forced rest is seen as a setback within the cricketing circles at home.
Their landmark maiden series wins against three big sides may have brought about hope of playing more regularly, but opportunities have been far and few. Even their last 'A' tour came about more than a year ago, in India. Therefore, this series is important to identify their combinations ahead of the bigger challenge against England at home.
For starters, they will welcome the return of fast bowler Taskin Ahmed, whose bowling action has been cleared by the ICC.With not much international exposure, the other players have largely been busy with domestic competitions like the Dhaka Premier League, where the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal performed well. They have also tried to replicate top-level scenarios in several practice matches, but shedding rust is a major worry for the team management, which has also been revamped with the addition of former West Indies captain Courtney Walsh (bowling coach) and former Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera (batting consultant).
Afghanistan have left out the experienced Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran. Youngsters who showed glimpses of their ability in their three-week camp in India have been picked, and they impressed in the practice match against BCB XI. The onus, therefore, is on Asghar Stanikzai, the captain, and Mohammad Nabi would have to guide youngsters likes Rashid Khan and Karim Janat, fresh off the Afghanistan U19s.
The contest promises to be intriguing, weather permitting.
Bangladesh WWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Since his match-winning scores in the ODI series against South Africa last year, Soumya Sarkar has averaged just 17.82 in 49 matches in all competitive cricket, including the Asia Cup T20, World T20 and domestic competitions.
Mohammad Shahzad has earned the reputation of being a crowd-puller with his exuberance, both with his celebrations and with the bat. He showed his capability at the World T20 in India earlier this year, and will once again be relied on to get the side off to pulsating starts.
Bangladesh will have to choose between Imrul Kayes and Mosaddek Hossain to shore up the top order, which means Nasir Hossain may have to make way. Shafiul Islam, returning to the side after nearly two years on the fringes, could play ahead of Rubel Hossain.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Imrul Kayes/Mosadek Hossain, 4 Mahmudullah, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Sabbir Rahman, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Taijul Islam, 11 Taskin Ahmed
Afghanistan will make at least three changes from their last ODI, as Javed Ahmadi, Gulbadin Naib and Yamin Ahmadzai aren't in the squad. Nawroz Mangal could open with Mohammad Shahzad while Hashmatullah Shahidi, who struck a half-century against BCB XI on Friday, could be slotted into the middle order. Either one of Fareed Ahmed or the uncapped Karim Janat may open the bowling with Dawlat Zadran.
Afghanistan (probable) 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Nawroz Mangal, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Stanikzai (capt), 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mirwais Ashraf, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Karim Janat
Pitch and conditions
The surface at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium was mostly under cover due to the heavy rain in Dhaka. The ball has tended to move around a little more than usual under lights at this time of the year, which means chasing could be tricky. But the captain who wins the toss may have a difficult decision to make, considering rain could make an appearance in the second-half, which could bring Duckworth-Lewis calculations into the picture.
Stats and trivia
- Shakib is two wickets away from becoming Bangladesh's highest ODI wicket-taker, taking over from Abdur Razzak who has taken 207 wickets.
- This is Bangladesh's first bilateral ODI series against an Associate Nation at home since 2008 when they played against Ireland in a three-match ODI series.
"We have got the ammunition so let's see if they can surprise the Bangladesh batsmen"
Afghanistan coach Lalchand Rajput
"We have upset many good teams on the world stage. We take them very seriously"
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurasingha
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84