Afghanistan confident ahead of Bangladesh Test without Rashid

Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi is confident of his side’s chances against Bangladesh in their return to Test cricket after more than two years, despite resting key leg spinner Rashid Khan.

“Expectation is high, we are here to play good cricket and want to win the game,” Shahidi told reporters in Dhaka on Monday.

Afghanistan take on their hosts in a one-off Test series on Wednesday, their first Test match since facing Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi in March 2021, AFP reported.

“We had a lot of gaps,” Shahidi said. “We play domestic first-class games and lots of players are involved in that.”

The Afghanistan team — from a country still feeling the after-effects of decades of conflict and the 2021 Taliban takeover — have won three of six Tests since being granted Test status in 2018.

Those wins include their only previous Test against Bangladesh.

Rashid has played in five of Afghanistan’s six Test matches, picking up 34 wickets at an average of 22.35, but is being rested for the game after a grueling campaign in the Indian Premier League.

His exploits include 11 wickets in the Test against Bangladesh, which they won by 224 runs in Chittagong in 2019.

“It will be challenging,” Shahidi said. “We all know that Rashid is one of the main bowlers. He did very well in the past in Test matches. Still, we have another option like wrist spinners and they will perform well, inshallah (God willing).”

Shahidi, who scored an unbeaten 200 in the Zimbabwe Test, said the 2019 win over their hosts would inspire the side to do well again here.

“It inspires us, because we played only one Test here and we won that. So that gives us a lot of confidence,” he said.

Bangladesh will be without their main all-rounder and captain, Shakib Al Hasan, who has been nursing a finger injury.

Stand-in skipper Liton Das said they would take Afghanistan seriously despite Rashid’s absence.

“We will take Afghanistan the same way we would have taken them if Rashid Khan was present,” said Rashid.

“We also had a gap in Tests — we last played a Test match in April and had to switch to white-ball cricket. But I think we are at least ahead of them, as we have been playing Test cricket regularly for many days,” he said.

Bangladesh defeated Ireland in their last Test match, but have lost eight of their previous nine matches.

Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Rahmat Shah, Afsar Zazai, Ikram Alikhil, Ibrahim Zadran, Abdul Malik, Baheer Shah, Nasir Jamal, Karim Janat, Zahir Khan, Izharulhaq Naweed, Hamza Hotak, Ibrahim Abdulrahimzai, Yamin Ahmadzai, and Nijat Masood.

Bangladesh squad: Liton Das (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Zakir Hasan, Najmul Hossain, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Khaled Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Mahmudul Hasan, Shahadat Hossain and Mushfik Hasan.