Bangladesh and Zimbabwe join the newest cricket bandwagon as they face off in their inaugural Twenty20 International match at the Khulna Divisional Stadium today.
Although the ball-bashing 20-over-side match, which has recently been endorsed by the ICC as an additional competition, is something new for both teams, the first-of-its-kind game has already created enormous enthusiasm among the cricket fans in the southern headquarters of the country. With two third of the 15,000 tickets already sold out, local reports claim that the match will guarantee a full house when it begins at 1.30pm this afternoon.
The hosts who are led by young Shahriar Nafees, the vice-captain of the national side, has a young theme to it. Only veteran all-rounder Mohammad Rafique, tried as an opener in Sunday's warm-up match against a local Khulna selection, will add some experience to the very young side.
"I am proud to become the first captain of Twenty20 matches for Bangladesh as I am a part of history," said skipper Nafees.
"As this format requires aggressive players, we will make sure that those players are playing tomorrow (Tuesday)," said the young opener.
Twenty20 cricket however is not totally new to Bangladesh as the Corporate League was held in this format two years ago.
Coach Dav Whatmore said, "The format is new for both teams and it is important for us to adapt quickly and get used to the pace of this game."
About Ashraful's inclusion in the one-day side, the coach informed that it was the selector's decision to reinstate him in the team. Ashraful was dropped for the first three one-dayers including the opening match at Khulna on November 30 due to his poor run of form with the bat.
But the talented right-hander forced the selectors to change their hearts with back-to-back centuries including a record 263 for Dhaka against Chittagong in a first-class match last week.
Whatmore, who was apparently against Ashraful's inclusion in the one-day squad, also said that he could not confirm whether he (Ashraful) would be inserted into the side for the first ODI as it is a norm to decide on the line-up the day before the match itself.
Opener Nazmus Sadat and middle-order batsman Nadif Chowdhury, who arrived yesterday after playing the warm-up game against Zimbabwe, are two young aggressive characters who are expected to do some early damage on the Zimbabwe bowlers. Veteran Rafique is also expected to entertain the crowd with his usual spectacular batting.
The visitors' also have players tailor-made for this newest variation of the game with the focus mainly being on big-hitters Brendan Taylor and Elton Chigumbura.
Apart from India, these two teams were the only ones left from the 10-Test playing nations to have played Twenty20 International matches, with Australia having played the most matches at this level.
Bangladesh: Shahariar Nafees (captain), Aftab Ahmed, Sakib Al Hasan, Nazmus Sadat, Mohammad Rafique, Farhad Reza, Nadif Chowdhury, Mashrafee Bin Mortaza, Shahadat Hossain, Abdur Razzaq, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tapash Baishya, Mehrab Hossain (Jr).
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