'Afghanistan will be a big challenge'

Bangladesh wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim (R) shares a light moment with opener Tamim Iqbal (2nd from L) during a gym session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: BCB

Afghanistan are currently ranked eighth while Bangladesh sit in 10th position in the ICC T20I team rankings. Many may have reservation about the T20I rankings, but there is some truth in the standings as Bangladesh wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim endorsed it by saying: "Afghanistan are a dangerous team in T20 cricket. In this format they are very challenging."

Where does the biggest challenge lie for the Tigers?

One of Bangladesh's finest batsmen, Mushfiqur rightly identified that it would be a huge challenge for the batsmen to handle Afghanistan's two quality spinners -- leg-spinner Rashid Khan and off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman -- in the three-match T20I series in Dehradun from June 3, especially as there is concern over the Bangladesh batsmen's ability to negotiate quality spin bowling.

"Rashid Khan is a world-class bowler. Except in one match, it was not possible to take him for more than six-seven runs an over in the ongoing IPL. And not only Rashid Khan; they also have Mujeeb who bowls with the new ball," Mushfiqur told reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.

He emphasised on good planning in order to negotiate the bowlers. "It will be challenging for us. Personally, I am working on a few things like what kind of shot I need to play to score runs against them. T20 is a format where you cannot be cautious against any particular bowler; we have to draw up a good plan so that we can take some calculated risks. I am confident in our team as we have high-quality cricketers in the side. I am hopeful that it will be a good series if we can click."

Mushfiqur was not too concerned with the hot and humid weather in Dehradun. "I don't think it will be an issue because we played well under such conditions in Sri Lanka. If we could adjust to the conditions in Sri Lanka, why not in Dehradun?

"Yes, there is a reason to be concerned about the unknown ground and the unknown pitch, which may be a challenge for us but there will be a practice match and it will be good for us if we can adjust to the conditions quickly."

He however wanted to take inspiration from their last T20I performance in Sri Lanka.

"The way we played our last series in Sri Lanka [the run to the Nidahas Trophy final] will give us confidence. It was important to beat Sri Lanka on their home soil and play good cricket against India," he said.