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Afghanistan eye history with winning momentum

Match facts

October 1, Mirpur
Start time 1430 local (0830 GMT)

Big Picture

If it wasn't during the first game, the second ODI made sure Afghanistan grabbed the undivided attention of Bangladesh - the cricket team and nation alike. There will be a lot of eyeballs on the Shere Bangla National Stadium for the series decider, which will have a large bearing on the home team's mindset ahead of the England series.

Bangladesh would like their batsmen to not throw away their wickets after getting a start, as the top five did in the second game. Soumya Sarkar, in need of runs after a barren 12 months, was the biggest culprit when he charged at Mirwais Ashraf unnecessarily after Tamim Iqbal had got out attempting the same shot.

Imrul Kayes returning to the XI would be a must, given how comfortably he dealt with the Afghanistan attack, albeit for 50-odd deliveries. But his form is going to be important in the third ODI. So would be longer knocks from Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan.

Bangladesh also have a reshaped bowling attack after Rubel Hossain was dropped from the squad for the third ODI, making way for left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain, the domestic stalwart making a comeback after eight years. Mashrafe Mortaza would have a lot in his mind with the bowling attack, and that could mean picking three left-arm spinners, himself and Taskin Ahmed.

Afghanistan have to keep their bowling plans intact, after being successful in their two-wicket win. Mohammad Nabi's accurate offbreaks have been the perfect foil for Rashid Khan's quick legspin but the rest of the Afghanistan attack must put its act together.

And so should their batting line-up. A big one is due from Mohammad Shahzad, and there would not be any better time than to let one of his whirlwind innings hit Mirpur. It could knock the wind out of Bangladesh.

Form guide

Bangladesh LWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Afghanistan WLLWL

In the spotlight

It was a dream ODI debut for Mosaddek Hossain with some runs and wickets. There wasn't enough opportunity for the newcomer in the first ODI but he made the best of what he got, forging a 43-run tenth-wicket stand with No. 11 Rubel Hossain. He was a revelation with the ball and might get more overs in the third ODI.

Asghar Stanikzai reached his first ODI fifty in 19 months, in the second ODI, as he mixed caution with six-hitting quite effectively. But he suffered from cramps twice during the innings. He would now want to continue with the flow, and make sure the humidity doesn't get to him.

Team news

Bangladesh brought in Mosharraf Hossain to replace Rubel Hossain in the 14-man squad, but it is still uncertain whether he will replace Taijul Islam or Bangladesh will go with three specialist left-arm spinners. Imrul Kayes could return to the playing XI at the expense of the out-of-form Soumya Sarkar.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes/Soumya Sarkar, 3 Mahmudullah, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt.), 9 Mosharraf Hossain, 10 Taijul Islam, 11 Taskin Ahmed

Afghanistan brought in the experienced Nawroz Mangal to open with Mohammad Shahzad. Although Mangal didn't make a worthy contribution, the winning combination may not be altered with the chance to win the series.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Nawroz Mangal, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Stanikzai (capt.), 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mirwais Ashraf, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Naveen-ul-Haque

Pitch and conditions

The Mirpur pitch was sluggish in the first ODI and then a rank turner in the second. Curator Gamini Silva could revert to the one he put out for the first game, which could assist Bangladesh's spinners who bowl slower than the Afghanistan counterparts. For a change, there is very little rain forecast for Saturday.

Stats and trivia

  • Shakib Al Hasan is only the third bowler after Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to take 100 or more wickets at a single venue. Akram and Younis took 122 and 114 wickets each at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium while Shakib has exactly 100 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.

  • Afghanistan seem to be specialist in winning by two wickets, having now done it five times.

  • If Afghanistan win, it will be their first series win against any team ranked higher than Zimbabwe in ODIs.

Quotes

"Pressure is obviously on both sides, this being an international match. Fact that they are an Associate nation doesn't come to our mind. They are a strong team."
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza is wary of his opponents.