In-between all the drama surrounding Tamim Iqbal’s shock retirement and prompt unretirement, it’s easy to forget that the national team is actually in the middle of a home series against Afghanistan, where so far they have been bested by the visitors.
The Tigers have already lost the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series against Afghanistan after losing the first two ODIs.
Now, Bangladesh will play the third ODI at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Tuesday hoping to avoid a series clean-sweep, something they haven’t suffered in the 50-over format at home in nine years.
The last time Bangladesh got clean-swept in a three-match ODI series at home was against Sri Lanka in February 2014. Bangladesh was winless in the home ODI series against India later that year as well but the third match of that series was washed out, meaning the visitors won the series 2-0.
Bangladesh won 14 out of their next 16 bilateral ODI series at home before the 17th one against Afghanistan rolled along. Before Afghanistan, England were the only team to defeat the Tigers in their own den in this period, winning in their tours in 2016 and 2023. But both of England’s series wins were of 2-1 margin.
Afghanistan now have the chance to emulate what Sri Lanka did in 2014 and in the process bring up their third ODI series clean-sweep against a Test team after doing it against Ireland and Zimbabwe.
After losing the rain-hit first ODI by 17 runs in the Duckworth and Lewis System, Bangladesh were outplayed by Afghanistan in the second ODI, losing by 142 runs and subsequently losing the three-match seriesI
Inboth ODIs, Bangladesh batters had no answers to the questions posed by the Afghan spinners. In the pre-match press conference, Bangladesh’s assistant coach batted for his players and said that the entire world struggles to handle the Afghanistan spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi.
“I think it is not a question of whether we struggled, It is a question of how the world struggles to pick them (Afghan spinner). Where they are ranked in the world will tell you everybody in the world struggle pick them. I had Mujeeb with me at Middlesex. Even after I was talking to him as a wicketkeeper, I struggled to pick him from behind,” Pothas said.
He then went on to compare Afghanistan’s spin trio with the likes of legendary spinners Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, “Could everyone pick Shane Warne, Muralitharan? That’s why they are the best in the world. That’s why every competition in the world puts up so much money for mystery spin. Question is, what are we going to do about it, and how is it going to make us better?”
The South African coach also claimed that facing the Afghan spinners will help the Bangladesh batters in the long run.
Technically, the challenge that they have presented, is a huge advantage to us. It will make us better. If you can face this level of spin, you can face anybody,” he added.
Afghanistan’s fast bowling coach Hamid Hassan hopes his team will take confidence from the series win against Bangladesh and carry that confidence into the forthcoming Asia Cup and the ICC World Cup.
If you believe in yourself, you can beat anyone. This time we think bigger, hoping for a very good result the way the team is performing. The world is aware of Afghanistan… Hopefully, this World Cup will be good for Afghanistan. Maybe we can win a few matches with good results.”