Shakib Al Hasan and Co. will be desperate to beat a young opposition
DEHRADUN: Neither Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, nor the state has much of a direct cricket connection. In fact, it doesn’t even have a recognised state association. Naturally, the Uttarakhandis take pride in establishing a thread between their state and the likes of M.S. Dhoni, whose parents hailed from the state before moving to Ranchi and whose parents-in-law live here, Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant, both of whom spent their childhood in the state before moving to other regions to pursue their cricketing dream.
Over the last week, however, with two international sides training at the picturesque Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on the outskirts of the city, the winds of cricket have been gaining pace.
When Rashid Khan, one of the success stories of the recently-concluded IPL, touched down on Saturday afternoon to join his teammates for Afghanistan’s three-match T20I series against Bangladesh, he was mobbed at the airport. Minutes earlier, captains and coaches of both the teams addressed the media in a chaotic interaction on the eve of the series-opener.
The frenzy surrounding a new international venue is not the sole distraction for the teams, especially Afghanistan. After all, Asghar Stanikzai’s boys are eagerly looking forward to facing India in the country’s maiden Test match from June 14. No wonder then that coach Phil Simmons has decided to field only five key players of the Test squad for the T20I series.
The remaining Test squad too has been slogging it out simultaneously, with the coach being stretched to keep his wards focussed on both the series. The next three weeks will give Afghanistan the first taste of dealing with weird international fixtures.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, will be hoping to improve on its mediocre record in T20Is.
While Afghanistan has made steady progress, Bangladesh’s inconsistency has resulted in it languishing in the 10th place, two spots below its opponent, in the ICC rankings. Shakib Al Hasan and Co. will thus be desperate to beat a young Afghanistan squad and earn some vital ranking points.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt.), Mohammad Shahzad, Najeebullah Tarakai, Usman Ghani, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Darwish Rasooli, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Jannat, Rashid Khan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Shapoor Zadran, and Aftab Alam.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (capt.), Mahmudullah Riyad (vice-capt.), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Ariful Haque, Mehedi Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Abu Hider, Rubel Hossain, Abu Jayed, and Abul Hasan.