Bangladesh aim to overcome top-order woes in ODI series vs Afghanistan

After managing to win the opening encounter by four wickets with just seven balls remaining against Afghanistan, Bangladesh would be hoping to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI series at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium later on Friday.

The matches are a part of the ODI Super League, and Bangladesh will look to rectify their batting woes that plagued them in the opening game where they lost six wickets in their chase of the tourists’ 215 all out and won with only seven deliveries remaining on Wednesday.

It was Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Afif Hossain’s 174-run seventh-wicket stand that helped the hosts overcome a batting collapse and win the first match but going into the second ODI, there is plenty of room for improvement.

The Bangladesh batters, especially the top three will have to spend time in the middle and someone has to anchor the innings till the end. The senior players will have to take the responsibility of playing long innings, giving a cushion to the newcomer Yasir Ali in the middle order.

Despite poor batting display by Bangladesh’s top-order batters, they can still take some positives from the first ODI as their bowlers and all-rounders gave a good account of themselves. Miraz and Hossain’s innings were a showcase of Bangladesh’s preparation against Afghanistan spinners, but it was pace and swing that worried them. In the bowling department, the spinners, as well as the fast bowlers, did a good job striking at regular intervals.

The brilliant opening spell of Afghanistan’s Fazalhaq Farooqi in the first match had put Bangladesh on the back-foot. Despite getting a great start followed by some accurate bowling from the spinners throughout the innings, they couldn’t break through Miraz and Hossain’s resistance. The spinners started to face difficulties as the dew set in but Hossain and Miraz also batted sensibly throughout their innings.

Going into the second ODI, rather than depending on the spinners, Afghanistan’s other medium-pacers, Yamin Ahmadzai and Gulbadin Naib will have to contribute and take wickets.

Afghanistan also struggled in their batting department. The batters failed to convert their starts and lost wickets after getting set. Najibullah Zadran was the only batter to make a significant contribution but was left alone with the tail-enders to finish the innings. In a do-or-die game, the tourists will be expecting more from their batters and will be looking for a strong comeback in the series.

In the opening ODI, chasing 215, Bangladesh were restricted to 45/6 at one stage. But unbeaten half-centuries from Hossain (93 not out and Miraz (81 not out) helped Bangladesh cross the line against all odds. The pair showed immense character and patience to stitch a partnership of 174 runs, helping their team to a victory.

Later Bangladesh captain Tamim Iqbal had conceded he was having doubts about the win after his team was tottering on 45/6.

“To come here and say that I had belief, I would be lying. 45/6 chasing 215, very difficult, the way the youngsters played, unbelievable, very happy and proud. Not easy at all. Afghanistan have a great spin attack and the way these two handled was amazing and a lot to learn as well. I hope and pray that this is not the end, this is just the starting for them; they have to win more games. Happy and so proud.”

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