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'Afghanistan are ranked higher than us' – Mahmudullah wants 'focus' in last leg of tri-series

Bangladesh news

Mahmudullah, the Bangladesh all-rounder, who was Player of the Match as they beat Zimbabwe on Wednesday, 18 September to seal a spot in the tri-series finals, has expressed his hope of carrying that winning form into their final two matches.

Bangladesh have two matches lined up against Afghanistan in the series – the last league game, and the final – with the visitors unbeaten on their tour so far, including in the one-off Test before the tri-series when Bangladesh were beaten by 224 runs.

Afghanistan's hold over the hosts extended to the limited-overs format as well, with Bangladesh being comprehensively beaten by 25 runs in their tri-series clash. It was their fourth successive loss in five T20Is between them.

Mahmudullah, who starred against Zimbabwe with a fluent 41-ball 62, is hoping to carry that level of performance into the clashes against Afghanistan. "We need to focus on our next match," Mahmudullah said. "They are ranked higher than us, and we need to keep that in mind. 

"In recent times, the results are not going our way. We lost the Test match, lost to Sri Lanka, and the last T20 match too. Our next step will be to continue the dominance and put up a same or even better performance to win against Afghanistan, which would give us more confidence and help us have a morale boost ahead of the final."

Mahmudullah walked to the middle in the eighth over of the clash against Zimbabwe, with the scoreboard reading 65/3. He added 78 runs with Mushfiqur Rahim to guide his team to a par total of 175/7, and he hit five sixes and a four in his 41-ball stay. "I was prepared to counter attack, even if that was the first ball of the innings," Mahmudullah said.

"Basically, I don't play too many reverse sweeps, but I tried and I could not connect. But Mushfiqur's strength is playing those shots. I think we are more capable in skill-hitting rather than power-hitting. We could utilise the power only when we are set in the crease. There is no Chris Gayle and Andre Russell in Bangladesh team. We are more focused on skill-hitting.” 

The 33-year-old also heaped praise on Aminul Islam, the young leg-spinner, who returned 2/18 on his international debut. "When I first saw him [Aminul Islam] bowling in the nets, I felt there's an X-factor in him," Mahmadullah said. "He seems aggressive with a good physical attitude. I was talking to him on the field and told him, 'whatever you do, do it with courage.' I think he was also feeling that.

"I felt that he was quite aggressive when he was bowling and fielding, which is very important in T20 cricket. It might not work every day, but it will give him success most of the time. I am very happy about his performance."

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