The 14th edition of the Asia Cup is fast approaching with the tournament slated to be held in the UAE for the third time in its history.
Six of the best teams from the continent will battle it out for the crown of Asia’s best across two venues.
Bangladesh, who are yet to lay their hands on the title, have been placed in a tough Group B alongside Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Here, we take a closer look at the Tigers as they prepare to leave their mark in the UAE.
COACH – STEVE RHODES
Former England wicketkeeper Steve Rhodes took charge as the head coach of the team in June this year following an extensive search by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). The 54-year-old has vast coaching experience in country cricket where he served as the director of cricket for Worcestershire from 2006 to 2017.
His Bangladesh tenure got off to a dismal start with a Test series defeat in their tour of the Caribbean but the team then bounced back to clinch the subsequent ODI and T20I series.
CAPTAIN – MASHRAFE MORTAZA
The veteran pacer has been leading the ODI team for some time now and he brings with him a bagful of experience. Having burst onto the international stage as a genuine pacer in 2001, the 34-year-old has transformed himself constantly in the wake of recurring injuries, especially to his knee.
Now, he is a wily medium-pace bowler who can pick up wickets up front while keeping things tight at the death. With 32 wins in 58 ODI matches, Mortaza is the most successful limited-overs skipper in Bangladesh’s history and he will be hoping to lead the side to their maiden Asian crown as he approaches the twilight of his career.
STAR MAN – SHAKIB AL HASAN
Quite a lot has changed for Bangladesh cricket over the last few years but that Shakib Al Hasan remains their star man has not. Currently the No1 ranked all-rounder in ODI cricket, Shakib has been recently reinstated as the vice captain of the squad.
With over 5,000 ODI runs and 237 wickets, there aren’t many better than the Bangladesh all-rounder and if he can find some form, the Tigers are bound to go far in the tournament. Arguably the greatest player produced by his country, Shakib has been carrying the hopes of the Bangladesh team for over a decade now and he will be required to do it once again in the UAE. The all-rounder has deferred a possible finger surgery to make himself available for the tournament.
ONE TO WATCH – MEHIDY HASAN
The 20-year-old batting all-rounder could be a game-changer in the tournament for Bangladesh if he can find his bowling radar. A handy lower-order batsman who can land the big blows, Hasan can also turn the screws with ball in hand. He barely gives anything away with his tight off-spin which is shown by his career economy-rate of 4.77.
He was the undisputed star of Bangladesh U19’s march to the semi-final of the World Cup in 2016 and has already been earmarked as a potential superstar for the country.
STRENGTHS – MIDDLE ORDER
With Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmadullah in tow, Bangladesh’s middle-order is one of the strongest in the tournament. If the likes of Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das can lay a solid platform at the top of the innings, then these three batsmen are more than capable of driving home the advantage in the death overs.
WEAKNESSES – TOP ORDER
With Tamim Iqbal nursing a finger injury and Nazmul Hussain yet to be capped at the ODI level, Bangladesh could have troubles at the top of the innings. They have added batsman Mominul Haque as a backup to the two openers who are both dealing with injuries. A lot of the responsibility in the top-order will fall on the shoulders of Liton Das who has played only 12 ODIs to date.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Kumar Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam Apu, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Haider Rony, Mominul Haque.
GROUP STAGE MATCH 1
September 15: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai.
Time: 14:00 GST
GROUP STAGE MATCH 2
September 20: Bangladesh v Afghanistan
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Time: 14:00 GST
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