Bangladesh vs Afghanistan
Colombo, Sri Lanka (BBN)-The big day is almost here. How Bangladesh fare against Afghanistan on Wednesday could set the tone for the rest of their campaign.
A good win would be a confidence booster, while anything less than that could be a no return setback. Bangladesh’s coach Chandika Hathurusingha admitted the players are a bit nervous.
Perhaps being nervous is better than being overconfident and complacent, writes Jeeshan Mirza, who is an avid Bangladeshi cricket follower based out of Colombo in Sri Lanka.
The Tigers must play the encounter like a final.
The writer who is also a shirt-maker and entrepreneur by profession suggested five tips for our Tigers to do to win the match.
1. Win the toss & field
Only four games have been played at the Manuka Oval, Canberra till date-two won by batting first, and two by chasing. It is still difficult to gauge the wicket, but a batting surface is more likely. Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, Bangladesh should ideally look to field first to better acclimate with the conditions and kill the butterflies.
In all four warm-up games, Bangladesh batted first and failed to defend their score. But this is not the only issue, nerves could also work against them particularly at the back of warm-up defeats and lofty expectations. Afghanistan in comparison have less to lose, less to prove.
2. Restrict Afghanistan under 230 or score in excess of 300
Tactically, Bangladesh should aim for a repeat of their 2014 World Cup T20 triumph against Afghanistan-get them out for a cheap score, put their aggressive fast bowlers on the back foot-whereby they cannot go gung ho. Anything over 230-240 would mean the furious trio of Zadrans, and Hameed would have their tails up and the license run in fast and pound the ball.
If Bangladesh do bat first, they must aim for a score in excess of 300 given the prevailing trend in the 2015 World Cup so far. But if the Tigers watched Irelands win over West Indies, they would realise sometimes even a 300 may not be enough. The 300 of this World Cup seems to be 250 of previous editions, thus anything less may not be sufficient. And for Tigers to score 300, ideally one out of the top four must be able to score a century.
3. Win the battle of middle over’s
Most would relate the first ten or last ten as the game changing and match winning over’s. But for Bangladesh it is the middle over’s which are key.
Bangladesh’s bowling strength is still its spin. It is easiest for spinners to bowl with four fielders in the deep. In general, the Afghan batsmen prefer to have a go at the ball, rather than place deftly or rotate strike. Thus whether bowling first or defending first Tigers must look to restrict runs between over 10 and 35. If flow of runs are checked, wickets will follow.
Technique and skill wise Bangladesh have better batsmen, who are expected to do well with the field spread. They must look to rotate strike, milk the ones and twos and be very busy in these middle over’s. 120-125 runs in these 25 overs would reduce pressure in batting powerplay and final ten, an area which is not a strength of the Tigers.  
4. The top order outsmarts three fiery pacemen
A key battle in the match would be how Bangladesh’s top order copes against Afghanistan’s trio of fast bowlers. Hamid Hassan, Dawlat Zadran and Shapoor Zadran are all big strong fast bowlers who can hit the deck hard and bowl close to 145 kph. Hassan the most skillful of the three can extract good swing and movement. To go with their pace and bounce is an aggressive and hostile demeanor. But sometimes this aggression can also be counterproductive with the bowlers losing discipline, line and length. This is something Tamim and co will hope for. Thus it will not only be a battle of skill, but also of battle of wits, mental strength and maturity. If the Bangladeshi top order can come on top in this key battle, their probability of victory will be significantly higher.
5. Kill when the enemy is down
 If there is one lesson for Bangladesh to take from their defeat against Afghanistan in Asia Cup 2014, it is to kill the enemy while it is down. From 5-90 in 26.5 over’s, Bangladesh allowed Afghanistan to score 254,which helped the Central Asian team cause a major upset. Much of the blame for the defeat was pitted on the defensive captaincy of Mushfiqur Rahim who instead of trying to kill the game off, slowed the tempo by employing part time spinners and setting defensive fields which eventually allowed the Afghans to take the game away.

Thus if a similar situation arises, Mashrafee Mortaza must utilize his best bowlers, put in fielders in catching positions and look to wrap things up instead of preserving for later.
BBN/ANS-17Feb15-8:50pm (BST)