Jurgensen hopes to lift Bangladesh

Mushfiqur Rahim left the field after hurting his right shoulder BCB

Bangladesh coach Shane Jurgensen wants his injury-hit side to overcome their lack of experience and take a forward step against Afghanistan. A day ahead of the game, Mashrafe Mortaza was ruled out of the Asia Cup with a side strain while captain Mushfiqur Rahim's shoulder injury has kept everyone on edge.

Already, Bangladesh are without Tamim Iqbal, one of their heroes in the 2012 tournament, and Shakib Al Hasan is under a three-match ban imposed by the BCB last week. Should Mushfiqur not regain full fitness, the hosts will have only one player - Abdur Razzak - who has played more than 100 ODIs taking the field on Saturday.

Jurgensen believes that if the team focuses on improving themselves, that intent will become a vehicle to play better cricket, and translate into a win.

"We have a few unfortunate injuries so all I have asked the players is to step up for their country," he said. "We have had one-day success in the last 18 months and that was because everyone stepped up. I have asked nothing more than that tomorrow. All we can look forward to do is to continue improve tomorrow. Last game was an improved performance.

"Hopefully we will have a good result. I would like to think that we will win. What is really important is to get our basic rights. For me that's the most important thing for me. It doesn't matter who the opposition is.

The top-order with Anamul Haque, Shamsur Rahman and Mominul Haque have only played 35 ODIs between them. Tamim's absence has been palpable but they have the choice of including Imrul Kayes, a more experienced opener who looms a prospect against Afghanistan.

The middle-order is being marshaled by captain Mushfiqur, but if he is sidelined, Naeem Islam and Nasir Hossain will have to take up responsibility. Naeem probably requires a little more time to get going but Nasir is having a more difficult time off-late to get balls off the square. There has also been a suggestion that he has been playing half-hearted shots even when he is going for big ones.

Jurgensen is hopeful the absences of Bangladesh's more experienced players would only spur the younger ones to perform better.

"It just provides an opportunity as a cricket team to create depth," he said. "It is a fantastic opportunity for young players to execute all the training we have been doing in such a big tournament. This is a positive when it comes to the 2015 World Cup in 12 months' time."

"There is probably some shuffling that needs to be made around the batting order," Jurgensen said. "The squad that's here though has a nice balance. I thought Ziaur bowled well and applied quite well with the bat. In that sort of area it creates a good balance to the whole side."

The performance of Razzak and Sohag Gazi with the ball has also been cause for worry. Given how Afghanistan looked uncomfortable against Pakistan's spinners, there seems merit to draft Arafat Sunny into the XI. But Jurgensen is more interested in helping their first-choice duo do better.

"I think the spin attack is one of our strengths but I don't think there will be too much of a change. I think what's more important is how we will be using our spinners tomorrow at what stage of the game because conditions will be different when you bowl first as compared to when you bowl second. Tactically we need to get that right," he said.

Realistically, Bangladesh are far above Afghanistan, in terms of cricketing heritage and performance, all of which is reflected in the ICC ODI ranking of the two sides. Jurgensen has enough respect for their opponents but he expects Bangladesh to respond well to the favourites tag.

"There is always going to be expectation," he said. "We are playing here in our own country, we are going to have the higher expectation and we have to deal with it. There was a lot of expectation in the Sri Lanka series and we have to deal with it now.

"We will definitely be respecting Afghanistan. They are an improving cricket team. They are not a young team as well, but with some experienced players who have played quite a bit of cricket. It is going to be a very competitive game tomorrow. I am quite excited to see these young teams face off against each other."