Bangladesh are keen to keep improving in the shortest format of cricket when they take on Afghanistan in the two-match T20 International series opener at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium here tomorrow (Friday).
The match which starts at 6 PM will be aired live on Gazi Television and T-sports.
Since the T20 World Cup last year, Bangladesh won five out of six matches, including a memorable 3-0 sweep against England, marking a significant progress in a format in which they are considered to be extremely vulnerable.
Now they are facing a team, against whom their success was not noteworthy. In fact, Afghanistan won six out of nine matches against Bangladesh in this format.
Afghanistan won the last two matches between the sides with eight wickets and seven wickets margin respectively, which spoke a volume of their dominance.
But if the performance of the last five matches was taken into the consideration, Bangladesh won two, meaning that two out of their three victories against Afghans came very recently.
Bangladesh Captain Shakib Al Hasan is confident of turning the table in this series, saying that the most important thing is to keep the consistency as they want to build a strong team for the upcoming T20 World Cup in 2024.
"We've been improving in this format, which was evident in our recent performance. We've won some matches after the T20 World Cup. We want to keep up that progress," Shakib said here today.
"Afghanistan will pose a stern and different challenge. We have to remember that in T20 cricket, there is nothing like big or small team. We have swept series against England but lost a match against Ireland. But, we want to win both of the matches in this series against Afghanistan and keep our winning spree in this format."
Although Bangladesh won the one-off Test against Afghanistan by a record 546- run margin, they lost the three-match ODI series by 2-1, which was their only third series defeat at home since 2015. Apart from England, Afghanistan are the only team to beat Bangladesh in an ODI series at their own backyard.
Bangladesh batters basically struggled against Afghan pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi and spinning duo-Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the series, which determined the course of the game. Specially Rashid Khan appeared to be almost unplayable.
Bangladesh bowlers who always found home condition particularly to their likings remained off colour in the first two matches but back with bang in the third match to script the side's seven-wicket victory. Rashid Khan didn't play the last game. However, Rashid, who is currently the No. 1 T20 bowler, will be back with his favourite format, much to the Bangladesh's despite.
Shakib looked unfazed by the return of Rashid, saying that they are not thinking much about any individual player, instead they want to put up their best performance.
"When we think much about the opponents, any particular player or condition, we couldn't play well. I believe the players are just thinking about how to perform well. They are not thinking much about any player or opponents."
With rain in the forecast in Sylhet, it is highly likely that the both of the T20 matches will be severely hit by rain.
Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), Liton Kumer, Rony Talukdar, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Shamim Hossain, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nasum Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Taskin Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shoriful Islam, Rishad Hossain and Afif Hossain Dhrubo
Rashid Khan (capt), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Sediqullah Atal, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Janat, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Noor Ahmad and Wafadar Momand.