Must-win clash for Tigers
A meek surrender against Sri Lanka has Bangladesh pinned back to the wall as they lock horns with Afghanistan in their second and final Asia Cup group fixture at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore today.
The match is scheduled to begin at 3.30pm, as per Bangladesh Standard Time.
Shakib Al Hasan and Co face an added pressure of having to win by a large margin to boost their chances of advancing to the Super Four.
Just a win for the Tigers today could still do the trick, given Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan in their final group game. Or else, Bangladesh will see the equation come down to net run-rate, which has been heavily dented by the big margin defeat in their first game.
Bangladesh had little time to regroup as they instantly had to head off to Lahore from Kandy following a five-wicket loss to co-hosts Sri Lanka.
Except for Najmul Hossain Shanto's 89-run knock, none of Bangladesh batters had an impact as the wheels fell off at the innings' back end, resulting in a paltry 164-run total.
After debutant Tanzid Hasan Tamim and Naim Sheikh failed to provide a stable start, the opening position came under criticism.
The top-order batting thus remains the biggest headache for head coach Chandika Hathursingha, who may make a few changes to the playing eleven.
A lot will be riding on Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, and the seasoned Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim to shoulder a lion's share of responsibility against a tough Afghan bowling outfit.
Star leggie Rashid Khan and miserly off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman are anticipated to play crucial roles, as is left-arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi -- who was instrumental in their recent 2-1 ODI series triumph over hosts Bangladesh.
The iconic Gaddafi Stadium remains an unfamiliar territory for both teams. Bangladesh last played here in 2008, while Afghanistan will be making their debut.