Bangladesh kick off the 2014 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 (T20) against Afghanistan with their Group A qualifier on home soil at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on Sunday morning.
And all eyes will be on the capital to see how Mushfiqur Rahim’s side get on against the underdogs in front of what is sure to be a capacity crowd as the global showpiece event gets under way.
What: Bangladesh vs. Afghanistan
Where: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka
When: Sunday, March 16, 9:30 a.m. GMT/ 3:30 p.m. local time
Live Stream/TV info: Sky Sports 2, 9-9:30 a.m. GMT, highlights 8-10 p.m. and 11 p.m.-1 a.m.
Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque (wkt), Shamsur Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mohammad Mahmudullah, Abdur Razzak, Sohag Gazi, Mashrafe Mortaza, Farhad Reza, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (captain), Mohammad Shahzad (wkt), Najeeb Tarakai, Karim Sadiq, Nowroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Mirwais Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Hamza Hotak, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Najeeb Zadran.
Bangladesh: The hosts go into the tournament opener having lost their last two competitive T20 internationals against Sri Lanka at home in February, prior to this week’s two unofficial warm-up clashes with United Arab Emirates and Ireland.
However, those back-to-back defeats in Chittagong last month against the runners-up from the World T20 two years ago both went right down to the wire, so expect Mushfiqur’s side to be more than dangerous opponents in front of their own passionate fans.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi and Co. made it all the way through to the final of the ICC World T20 qualifier in Abu Dhabi last November, only to be comprehensively beaten by Ireland.
Meanwhile, in their only other competitive outing since that setback, apart from this week’s two practice matches against Netherlands and Zimbabwe, they lost to Pakistan by six wickets off the final ball in a one-off encounter in Sharjah last December.
Shakib Al Hasan: You get the feeling the hugely talented former skipper wants to use this competition to remind both his own supporters, as well as the watching public at large, of just how prodigiously talented he can be with both bat and ball.
And what is more, in his own familiar conditions at home, the 26-year-old will be more than a threat with ball in hand, while his powerful middle-order batting should also not be underestimated, as befits the world’s seventh-best bowler and fourth-rated all-rounder in T20s.
Mohammad Nabi: The captain will be desperate to lead from the front in this tournament and if anyone can inspire his team-mates on to bigger and better things in their three Group A qualifiers, then it is the impressive 29-year-old.
However, it is Nabi’s bowling of his canny off-spinners that is sure to play a massive role in just how his side get on and with an impressive career economy rate of just 7.15 runs per over, the tweaker should enjoy the subcontinental surfaces he will be playing on.
Who will win the Group A qualifier between Bangladesh and Afghanistan
Weather: We are expecting a low of 25 degrees Celsius and a high of 33 degrees Celsius, with bright sunshine throughout, for this opening contest of the 2014 World T20.
Pitch: The last T20 international to be played on this surface was back in November, when New Zealand won a tight contest by just 15 runs after winning the toss and racking up an imposing total of 204 for five.
And despite a blistering 29-ball half-century from skipper Mushfiqur, ultimately a poor start with the bat cost the home side victory.