The rapid rise of Afghanistan cricket team continues. After becoming a Test nation just eight years after making their first appearance at top-tier international cricket, the Afghans have now defeated a country that has been playing the longest format for 19 years and that too, in their own backyard.
This loss would really hurt the Bangladeshis as in recent times, they have managed to defeat teams like Australia, England and West Indies at home and have even registered a Test victory in Sri Lanka. So, what went wrong? How did the Tigers collapse and that too, so badly on their own turf. Let's look at the reasons for this.
Familiar conditions for Afghan team
Afghanistan play their 'home' matches in India. Having many good spinners in their side and not too many effective pacers means that they too have become a team reliant on the slower bowlers. Unfortunately for Bangladeshis, this is the same template that their Test team has too. Playing at home, the Tigers have relied on turning tracks and good spinners to do the job. But such conditions proved very comfortable and familiar for the Afghan team as well.
In Test cricket of last few years, batting second hasn't been easy for a lot of teams. For a young side like Afghanistan, to have the pressure of a first-innings score over them could have proved tough. Batting first allowed them to put up a score and then, let their spinners do the work. This was a big reason for their success.
Improvement in Rashid
In their inaugural Test against India, Afghanistan's star spinner Rashid Khan struggled. His style of bowling – flat and fast – which had made him so effective in T20s proved ineffective in the longer format. However, the experience of bowling to top quality opposition like India may have proved enlightening and Rashid must have figured out the changes that he needs to bring in his bowling to succeed in this version also. He did seem to bowl slower and gave the ball more air. That contributed to his 11 wickets.
No experienced pacer for Bangladesh
The Bangladeshis tried to use the same formula for defeating Afghanistan that they did for winning against other teams. But they went too-far in their reliance on spin. With no decent, experienced pacer in their line-up, it was all left to the spinners to get wickets. Having good spinners in their squad has allowed the Afghan batsmen to hone their skills against slower bowlers. Some pace and swing could have made a big a difference. Alas, Bangladesh didn't have anyone who possessed them in their line-up.