Chattogram was still talking about Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Afif Hossain on the morning after their 174-run seventh-wicket stand
that turned Bangladesh's lost cause into a 1-0 lead in the ODI series against Afghanistan. Ahead of the second ODI on Friday, the excitement levels have gone up a notch. The first ODI showed there is very little between the two sides, and that is good news for fans looking for an enticing contest.
Afghanistan must have wondered what hit them. They reduced Bangladesh to 45 for 6, without breaking much of a sweat. Left-arm quick Fazalhaq Farooqi
blazed through some of the best batters, using subtle swing and seam variations. Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman also took a wicket each, but thereafter, despite their accuracy, they couldn't break through Afif and Miraz.
Part of their problem was considerable dew after sunset, but also how Afif and Miraz played quite sensibly against their best bowlers and attacked the others. Yamin Ahmadzai and Gulbadin Naib will need to bowl better in game two.
There will also be a lot more focus on the Afghanistan batters who didn't convert starts. Only Najibullah Zadran
batted deep. They will need more from their batters in what is a must-win game for them.
The home side have even more to worry about, particularly their batting. It remains to be seen how debutant Yasir Ali
reacts to his first-match duck. The senior batters have seen and done it all, so they can be expected to bounce back. Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim had long net sessions during an optional training session on Thursday.
Bangladesh: WWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
bowled a mean first spell to sink Bangladesh's top and middle-order in the first ODI. His first spell of 5-1-19-4 included some smart bowling. He got the ball to move just enough to take the edge or skirt away from the bat. Someone who sees Mitchell Starc
, Zaheer Khan
and Mohammad Amir
as his idols, Farooqi has the makings of a regular in the Afghanistan side.
It took Afif Hossain
some time to get his first big knock in international cricket but for the Bangladesh team, it came at the right time. Afif showed in the first ODI that he has plenty of options while batting, but also knows how to choose wisely. After a number of seasons in domestic cricket where he played very well, this unbeaten 93 was quite the breakthrough knock.
Bangladesh are unlikely to break a winning combination, despite the collapse.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Litton Das, 2 Tamim Iqbal (capt), 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Yasir Ali, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Afif Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Shoriful Islam, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Afghanistan too may not change their XI, given that most of their batters got starts while their bowlers did a fair job until Afif and Miraz took over.
Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), 5 Najibullah Zadran, 6 Gulbadin Naib, 7 Mohammad Nabi, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 10 Yamin Ahmadzai, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo
described the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury pitch from the first ODI as good one for batting. But some balls did keep a bit low.
The weather remains fair in Chattogram.
"We have to play better cricket tomorrow than we did yesterday. We bowled 13 wides yesterday. We dropped a catch. We were 45 for 6. We need a massive improvement on yesterday's performance in every department."
Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo