Tigers' last chance to get it right
Bangladesh go into the series decider at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium today facing a situation they would not have expected before the series.
Afghanistan were expected to put up a fight and they were expected to fight hard. Truth be told however, not many reckoned that they would still be in contention for the series by the end of it.
Today, taking the field on level terms with the three-ODI series tied at 1-1, they have a chance to create history. Afghanistan's young top-order batsman Hashmatullah Shahidi said during the pre-match press conference yesterday that if they manage to beat Bangladesh today, it will be the biggest achievement in the country's cricketing history.
And why should it not? If the Afghans go on to win the series today they will have achieved something that the likes of India, Pakistan and South Africa could not in recent times: beat Bangladesh at home.
Going by the first two ODIs, all that the Afghans need to work on is their finishing. They managed to keep a tight leash on Bangladesh for long periods of time in both the ODIs, but crumbled at the end on both occasions. Thankfully for them, they managed to hold on towards the end of the second ODI.
For Bangladesh, this series is a reminder of how unprepared they are for the England series. They have a number of problems. Their key opener Soumya Sarkar has not been firing. They are yet to find a player at number three and hence the shuffling of the order continues. That could also be a reason why none of the batsmen managed to make the most of their starts in the last game.
In addition, their two key fast bowlers are not hitting the right line and length. Taskin Ahmed seems out of sorts ever since his return, while Rubel Hossain, who was Bangladesh's hero the last time the Tigers faced England, has already been dropped for the third ODI.
Today will be their last opportunity to find form and find answers ahead of the England series that begins with the first ODI on October 7.
The one change that Bangladesh are likely to make is including slow left-armer Mosharraf Hossain. He replaced Rubel Hossain in the squad for the third ODI.
Will Bangladesh go into the game today with three specialist spinners? Or will they stick to their policy of playing three pacers?
If they stick to their current policy, then they might bring Shafiul Islam in place of Rubel Hossain and replace Taijul Islam with Mosharraf Hossain.
However, if they want to play the extra spinner, then Mosharraf might just replace Rubel.
There are also a few questions regarding Soumya. There is a chance that the team management might have a look at Imrul Kayes in the opening position.
If Bangladesh win today, they will have dodged a bullet and also notch their hundredth win in ODIs and perhaps celebrate a bit as well.
Regardless of the result, the outcome of the series isn't likely to change the fact that they really have plenty of things to work on before they face the English.