Hosts Bangladesh will take on Afghanistan in the qualifying round of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Sunday. After ending their Asia Cup campaign with four straight defeats, Bangladesh will look to come back stronger in the tournament. After a lot of speculation over security concern due to political unrest in the country, Bangladesh held on as the hosts for the ICC event.
Premier batsman Tamim Iqbal along with off-spinner Sohag Gazi and pacer Mashrafe Mortaza will be back to bolster Bangladesh for the World Twenty20. A lot will also rest on the shoulders of skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan, who can make their experience count.
The tournament, which runs until April 6, will be played under heavy security after election violence at the turn of the year raised fears that Bangladesh's biggest sporting event could be moved elsewhere.
Bangladesh, which co-hosted the 2011 50-over World Cup with India and Sri Lanka, will stage matches in the capital Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. But plans to host games in the holiday resort of Cox's Bazaar were ruled out after building work on a new stadium fell behind schedule.
Organisers will be praying that Bangladesh defeat the dangerous Afghanistan in Sunday's tournament opener in Dhaka because an early exit for the hosts could seriously affect interest in the tournament.
Afghanistan, who will play their third World T20 and have also qualified for a maiden appearance in the 50-over World Cup next year, stunned the hosts in recently concluded Asia Cup.
No wonder Bangladesh's premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan urged fans to tone down expectations from the home team. "Everyone must take results sportingly," he said. "Too much expectation puts undue pressure on us."
Bangladesh: Mushfqur Rahim (captain/wicketkeeper), Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque (wicketkeeper), Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah Riad, Shamsur Rahman, Abdur Razzak, Sohag Gazi, Rubel Hossain, Mashrafe Morataza, Al-Amin Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Farhad Reza.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (captain), Karim Sadiq, Mohammad Shahzad (wicketkeeper), Asghar Stanikzai, Nawroz Mangal, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf, Shapoor Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Najeeb Tarakai, Dawlat Zadran , Aftab Alam, Hamza Hotak, Shafiqullah.