Recently it seems that Bangladesh are not having a good time against Afghanistan in any sport or at any level. The cricket team were handed a 224-run thumping by Afghanistan, who were playing only their third Test, last Monday in Chattogram. On Tuesday, the Bangladesh football team also started their 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers campaign bleakly as they suffered a 1-0 loss to Afghanistan at in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Today, when the Bangladesh Under-19 cricket team take on their Afghan counterparts in the semifinal of the ongoing Asian Cricket Council Under-19s Asia Cup at the Tyronne Fernando Stadium in Moratuwa today, all eyes will be on the young Tigers to see if they can turn the tide and help the country avoid a third defeat in four days to Afghanistan.
The Under-19s have had a pretty smooth sailing up until now in the tournament. The young Tigers have emerged as the Group B champions by beating the likes of United Arab Emirates, Nepal and hosts Sri Lanka comfortably.
Bangladesh’s strength has been their batting while for Afghanistan it was mostly their bowling that helped them secure a semifinal spot. Bangladesh top-order batsman Mahmudul Hasan Joy is in second place in the tournament run-scorers’ list with 193 runs at an average of 96.50 and a high score of 126. Meanwhile, middle order batsman Towhid Hridoy has also been amongst the runs, amassing 128 runs in three matches, including two fifties.
The top wicket-takers’ list, meanwhile, is dominated by Afghanistan spinners. Leg-spinner Shafiqullah Ghafari and chinaman bowler Noor Ahmad are in joint-first position, having taken eight wickets each in three matches. It is a positive sign for Bangladesh that the bowling unit has been disciplined, but the decisive factor may still be which strength shines brightest today – Bangladesh’s batting or Afghanistan’s spin.