Bangladesh guard against rust in Afghanistan ODIs

Dhaka (AFP) - Bangladesh will be hoping their long absence from international cricket does not hurt their form when they play a three-match one-day international series against Afghanistan in Dhaka on Sunday.

The home side last played an international match during the ICC World Twenty20 in India in April this year and has played no one-dayers since hosting Zimbabwe in November last year.

The Afghanistan series was hastily arranged to give Bangladesh some cricket ahead of a more serious engagement against England, who will be visiting the country in October for three ODIs and two Tests.

Coach Chandika Hathurusinghe said the team's main focus was to get back to rhythm as soon as possible.

"Not playing for a long time is a bit of an Achilles' heel for us," Hathurusinghe said Saturday.

"That is what we are trying to get over, that uncertainty. The first match is vital for us. We have no concern over any skill part - batting, bowling or fielding.

"It is all about the mental side of the game - getting into the game, playing in front of a crowd for your country."

The home side was buoyed by the return of pace bowler Taskin Ahmed, who was cleared to bowl in international cricket on Friday after he successfully remodelled his action.

Taskin and left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny were reported for suspect actions after Bangladesh's opening match in the ICC World Twenty20 against the Netherlands in India.

- 'Prove ourselves' -

While Sunny was made to wait, Bangladesh drafted Taskin immediately for their squad against Afghanistan.

"The quality of Taskin's skill will benefit any team in world cricket," said Hathurusinghe.

"He is one of our best bowlers. So he is coming and we are very relieved to have this ban off."

Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza said Taskin's return will help the team overcome the absence of Mustafizur Rahman, who has been sidelined for months after shoulder surgery.

"Frankly speaking, we will miss Fizz," said Mortaza, using Mustafizur's nickname.

"But our current attack is similar to what we had in the World Cup last year. This is another chance for us to prove ourselves," he said.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai thanked Bangladesh for providing them with a rare chance to a play a series against a Test-playing county.

"It will really help both nations to come closer," Stanikzai said ahead of the first ever bilateral series between the two teams.

Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh in the Asia Cup 2014 but Stanikzai said it would be tough to repeat the glory.

"The win was two years ago and that was a past," he said.

"I think our team has played more cricket against full members and we are now a little bit experienced."

All three matches are taking place at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, with the second game on September 28 and the finale on October 1.

Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mosaddek Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Taijul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed.

Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (c), Amir Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Fareed Ahmad, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ihsanullah Karim Janat, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Naveen-ul-Haq, Nawroz Mangal, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shenwari, and Shabir Noori.

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