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Bangladesh were rocked with the exclusion of veteran opener Tamim Iqbal from the team after the opening batsman withdrew his retirement on request of the Bangladesh prime minister.
Fans were shocked to not see his name in the World Cup squad. Days later, former skipper Tamim lambasted the Bangladesh Cricket Board for the move.
Captain Shakeb Al Hasan then hit back at his colleague, claiming that Tamim was not completely fit to play a mega event of this stature and also did not agree to bat down the order.
Nonetheless, the affair has not given the team a positive vibe in any way, as they now prepare to face Afghanistan in the first game of the tournament.
Bangladesh vs Afghanistan Head-to-Head Record
In their 15 encounters in 50-over games, Bangladesh have come out on top on nine occasions whereas Afghanistan have managed to win just six games.
Generally, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium supports teams that bat second. So the team that wins the toss will look to get their hands on the ball and reduce the side batting first to the smallest total possible.
The Dharamsala track supports swing and seam so the opening spell by fast bowlers will determine how momentum will look for pacers throughout the first inning.
The key for batsmen in the first inning will be not to lose their wickets, settle in, take their time, then go big in late overs with ample wickets in hand.
Probable Man of the Match
Here are the player list that needs to watch out for on the field.
With an average of 32, Liton hasn’t done justice to his talent in 50-over games, but he has been Bangladesh's dependable batters in big games.
His experience of playing franchise cricket all around the world has helped him up his game in recent years, eventually helping his striking as well as strike rotation.
An opener, Bangladesh would want Liton to stay at the wicket for as long as he can because he has the ability to go big in middle overs.
With 2,250 runs and 10 centuries in 77 ODIs, Liton has enough experience under his belt.
Rashid is a royalty in any format he plays. Perhaps, the only player who is still “a mystery spinner” after playing day in, day out for his national team and franchise cricket.
Batsmen have been unable to pick his balls, let it be googlies or his wrong ‘uns.
The Afghanistan star has also raised his stocks in the recent years by working on his batting and often finishing the game with his power-hitting skills.
Unarguably, the best spinner in white-ball circuit, Rashid makes the best case to win the Man of the Match award on Saturday if his colleagues can accompany him to take the W.
Shakeb Al Hasan
This world cup is the Bangladesh skipper’s fifth mega event since his debut in 2006.
For a man who has been representing Bangladesh in ODIs for over 17 years, their team cannot ask for a more experienced captain in this world cup.
He averages 37 with the bat, amassing nearly 7,400 runs. At the same time, Shakeb is equally deadly with the ball, thanks to his 240 appearances in ODIs.
He has topped ICC’s rankings for all-rounders on multiple occasions, played T20 cricket globally and come clutch for international events whenever his team demands Shakeb to deliver the goods.
This will be, perhaps, Shakeb’s last ODI event wearing the Bangladesh jersey, and with the kind of form he is in, he will be laser-focused to put up a 10/10 performance with the bat and ball.
Gurbaz smacked Sri Lanka’s bowlers all over the park in the warm-up match held on Tuesday (October 3). He smoked nine sixes and 8 fours to retire himself at 119.
Afghanistan won by 6 wickets, thanks to his Gurbaz, who was hitting ball all over the park, not giving any respect to Sri Lanka.
Gurbaz has always had a solid defense, but now his T20 ventures have turned him into a solid hitter as well. This has resulted in Afghanistan having a complete opener who can read the situation quickly and play accordingly.
Balanced positioning, high backlift and a steady head has become Gurbaz’s trademark now with which he spanks fast bowlers left, right and center.
With a century in the last ODI series against Pakistan, he proved that he is an elite talent who can score tons of runs regardless of the bowling line-up.
Left-arm pacers are always lethal to right-handed openers. What Shaheen Shah Afridi does to Indian openers can very well be the case with Afghanistan on Saturday when Mustafiz will come running with the new ball against Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran.
He has great wrist control with which the pacer swings the ball both ways, especially the away singer which goes miles away from the right-handed batters.
Shakeb and co will be itching to see Mustafiz rattle stumps of Afghanistan's top order, something very likely to happen on a pitch that supports fast bowlers.
2023 CWC Bangladesh vs Afghanistan Prediction
Long gone are the days when the two sides were termed “minnows” of world cricket. They’ve evolved with time and become world beaters.
With the inclusion of explosive batters, Bangladesh has challenged top sides and also beaten teams like England, Australia and India. Similarly, Afghans have become a potent weapon with their spinners like Rashid Khan and Mujibur Rehman.
Bangladesh seems to have a better fast bowling attack as compared to Shahidi’s men.
On the flip side, Afghanistan’s openers are in red-hot form. But considering the nature of the pitch, the Tigers are favourites to bag the two points on Saturday since fast-bowlers are more likely to extract the most from the Dharamshala wicket.
Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi, Rashid and Mujib have the skills to trouble the best batters in the world, but it is very likely to happen on Saturday where they will not have much turn to make the most of. Unless, the pitch curator has a surprise for all of us on the matchday.