Tigers approach July ODIs with WC in mind
Following a record win in the lone Test, Bangladesh will be looking to replicate their fine run in the upcoming white-ball contests against Afghanistan as the Tigers reached Chattogram ahead of the three-match ODI series yesterday.
Meanwhile, Hashmatullah Shahidi and his troops also reached the port city after landing in Bangladesh yesterday. The visitors are expected to give a tough fight with a full-strength side following the return of star cricketers – the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi.
Some Bangladesh players trained yesterday while Afghanistan are set to resume training today ahead of the first ODI, scheduled on July 5. The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium will also stage the second and third ODI on July 8 and 11, respectively.
As Bangladesh will begin their ICC ODI World Cup campaign against Afghanistan in Dharamsala later this year, the upcoming ODI series emerged as a great platform for the Tigers to prepare and chalk out their game-plan ahead of the mega event.
The ODI series against Afghanistan and the upcoming Asia Cup is expected to be the last two series before the World Cup. According to selector Habibul Bashar, it will be important for the Tigers to take the momentum beside them before heading for the mega event.
"I think the significance of the upcoming series and also the Asia Cup is how we gain the momentum before heading for the World Cup. It is important to have good form as a team since we are well aware of the structure of the tournament, where every team will play against each other. Obviously, we will have our own game plan, considering the opponent," Bashar told The Daily Star yesterday.
According to the former captain, there is not much to adjust as a unit for the Tigers considering the Indian conditions which is pretty similar to Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, Bashar said that the upcoming series against Afghanistan will not be too crucial in terms of selection for the upcoming World Cup, since there is not much to tinker in the squad.
However, there will be eyes on the likes of Naim Sheikh and Afif Hossain who made a comeback in the ODI side for the Afghanistan series and it will be important for them to showcase their worth and become strong contenders to make it to the final World Cup squad.
"If you look at the squad, we don't see there are too many places where we can make changes, or there is a scope for drastic changes. Probably there are one or two areas where we can give our final thought. However, it's not that the upcoming Afghanistan series or the Asia Cup will play a big role in that."
The return of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan after recovering from his finger injury will certainly strengthen the team. However, the persistent injury concern of skipper Tamim Iqbal will also remain crucial from Bangladesh's point of view, and the team management will surely want the captain to lead from the front both on and off the field.