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The method of Afghanistan A's dominance of their hosts Bangladesh has surprised selector Habibul Bashar, who said that their brand of cricket has been more patient. Currently, Afghanistan lead the five-match one-day series 2-0 after their four-wicket win in Chattogram on Sunday, having already won the two-match four-day series 1-0.
Bashar said that he was impressed by the way they played mostly cricketing shots during their tricky 279-run chase, which was anchored by Ibrahim Zadran's 127 off 149 before Sharafuddin Ashraf and Fazal Niazai blasted 37 runs in three overs to complete the victory. Bashar also said that Afghanistan played by the book during the four-day matches, the first of which they won by seven wickets.
"This Afghanistan side is playing a different brand of cricket, which has surprised me," Bashar told Kaler Kantho, a Dhaka-based Bengali daily. "Their main team usually slogs the ball. They start going for big shots, but this team doesn't play like that. They are playing in the traditional way, which is very different for them. Even when they went for big shots in this game, they didn't just slog. They played good shots. They took 86 off the last eight overs against experienced bowlers like Shafiul [Islam] and [Abu Jayed] Rahi. This is a group of really committed cricketers."
On the flip side, however, Bashar said that he was worried about the home side's performance in the series so far. There are thirteen Bangladesh capped players among the 14 who have played in the two one-dayers, including World Cup squad members Mohammad Mithun, Sabbir Rahman, Rubel Hossain and Abu Jayed. From this squad, Anamul Haque and later Farhad Reza have been added to the senior side that is touring Sri Lanka currently.
Most of these players, according to Bashar, were picked on the back of excellent domestic showings from the last season, but it hasn't reflected in what is considered a step below international cricket.
"I am also wondering where the problem is," Bashar said. "This team is made up of proven performers at the domestic level. They have scored runs and taken plenty of wickets, but I can't figure out why they have been unable to perform against Afghanistan A.
"It is a matter of prestige, but also worrying, isn't it? The batsmen who played in the four-day matches all have 150-plus innings under their belt. They are now playing at almost the highest level, just below the senior team. They are in the A team because they have done well in domestic cricket. If they can't do well at this level, how will they do well at the next step."
Bangladesh A still have a chance to make a comeback in the three remaining one-day matches, to be held on July 24, 27 and 29.