Well, it is the expected match up. Everyone expected it to be a Bangladesh vs Afghanistan final, and here they are. Bangladesh come into the final with three wins in the bag, whereas Afghanistan have two as they lost a match each to both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the group stage.
Bangladesh started the tournament beating Zimbabwe but lost to Afghanistan in their second match. They bounced back in the Chattogram phase as they collected maximum points from their two matches.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, went to Chattogram unscathed but returned with two defeats from two. In addition to their recent poor outings, they might not have their skipper Rashid Khan in disposal in the final. The 21-year old leg-spinner hurt his hamstring in the last game of the group stage and according to the manager of the Afghan side, he might not feature in the final. And that just may tilt the balance towards Bangladesh.
However, Bangladesh have a very dodgy record in finals. Tigers have only managed to win one final and lost six.
Tigers reduced the margin to 4-2 in T20Is against the Afghans in the last match, and they have to thank their skipper Shakib Al Hasan for that, who will also be pivotal in the final. Bangladesh are heavily reliant on their talisman and will continue to do so in the finals. That is a matter of concern for the home team as it seems that there is no consistency with the others.
Afif Hossain won them their first match against Zimbabwe, whereas Mahmudullah and Shakib were the driving force in their next two victories. Liton Das managed to score 38 in their second match against Zimbabwe but struggled in other matches. His opening partners, first Soumya Sarkar and then Nazmul Hossain have performed miserably in the matches they played, and Bangladesh are left with a dilemma of whether to pick Nayeem Sheikh for the final or to bank on Nazmul once again.
The bowling department performed better as the tournament progressed but Mustafizur Rahman, leaked runs.
On the contrary, Afghanistan will look to the grand stage to bounce back and claim the trophy. If Rashid is deemed unfit for the final, it would be a big loss but their spin attack with Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Mohammad Nabi still packs a punch.
Their main concern though would be their batting. In both of the last two games, they had a very good opening partnership in the first ten overs only to lose it in the next ten. Mohammad Nabi struck a scintillating 84 in their match against Bangladesh in Dhaka but failed to replicate anything like that since. Their only consistent performer has been the young off-spinner Mujeeb, who has picked up wickets regularly and has been very tight in the power-play. Their star skipper Rashid Khan is a doubt for now, but his inclusion will surely provide them with a boost.
A change to the Bangladesh lineup is very likely if Aminul Islam Biplob is fit again. The young leggie will be replacing Sabbir Rahman, who failed to make proper use of his opportunity in the last match, scoring just one.
Afghanistan might not change their lineup unless Rashid stays out, with Sharafuddin Ashraf, who is yet to take part in the tournament, is likely to take his place.
Finals and Bangladesh have not been a great match. Always it looked very close but yet, it stayed too far. They managed to break the curse and lift a trophy earlier this year, but can they do that again? Even though Bangladesh are ranked lower than Afghanistan in the T20I rankings and are 4-2 behind on aggregate, the Tigers are expected to win.