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No need to fear Afghans - Tigers

Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh should not worry about Afghanistan and concentrate on playing their natural game in order to progress to the ICC World Twenty20 at home next year, said the players, coach and officials.
The Tigers are placed in Group A for the preliminary round along with Hong Kong and Nepal with only one team from the group advancing to the Super-10 stage.
Ireland, Netherlands and UAE joined Zimbabwe in the other preliminary group after the end of qualifying round in the UAE on Friday.
The draw left the country’s cricket fans nervous as Afghanistan have improved remarkably over the past few years. Some Afghan players shone in the Bangladesh Premier League and Dhaka Premier League, providing evidence of their meteoric rise.
Bangladesh will face them in the very opening match and a defeat in the game could effectively mean the end of the tournament for them at the very outset.  This will surely test the nerves of the Tigers, who are always vulnerable in similar situation. 
Coach Shane Jurgensen, however, insisted the Tigers should not be panicked as they are a much better side than their South Asian neighbours, who were playing fifth grade cricket only a few years ago.
‘We know that Afghanistan will be the main threat for us,’ Jurgensen told New Age on Sunday.
‘As far as the group is concerned and assessed by what we have seen in the qualifiers if we play our best and our approach is right we should reach the next stage quite comfortably,’ said Jurgensen.
‘With the full complement of our players we should play well and get them crushed. We would be playing in our own condition and just have to play accordingly,’ he added.
Jurgensen was not worried about the physical differences between the two teams.
‘I think Twenty20 is just more than hitting fours and sixes,’ said Jurgensen. ‘What I believe is that they would be tested against our bowling attacks.’
Afghanistan so far played 31 Twenty20 matches and won 11 of them, though all the wins came against the ICC Associate countries. They lost on all four occasions when they played against Test teams.
India defeated them twice while South Africa and England beat them once each.
Bangladesh played against Afghanistan once under the guise of BCB XI in a triangular tournament in Trinidad in 2012 and won by eight wickets. A second string Bangladesh team beat the Afghanistan national side in the Asian Games final in Beijing to win their first ever gold medal. 
Bangladesh batsman Mominul Haque said they are confident but have to remain on their toes as the opponents are Afghanistan.
‘To be honest there is something about them that has made them so dangerous,’ he said.
‘What I have seen during the DPL is that their batsmen are quite capable and know their area of stregth while some of the bowlers bowl really fast,’ he added.
Mahmudullah, another key player in the Tigers line-up said that though they had one or two good players in the side but in terms of team strength Bangladesh are far ahead.
‘We must respect them but at the same time we need to have faith in our own ability,’ said Mahmudullah. 
‘In the short format they are a good side but at the same time we are playimg Test cricket for quite some time that had developed our skill for all the formats as it tests your character,’ he added.

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