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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Asia Cup: Afghanistan ready to bounce back against Bangladesh after 'disappointing' defeat to Pakistan

Simmons' side lost their opening Super Four clash with just three balls remaining, but will take confidence from their recent dominance over Sunday's opponents

Rashid Khan led Afghanistan to victory over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup group stages and will look to repeat his heroics on Sunday. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Rashid Khan led Afghanistan to victory over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup group stages and will look to repeat his heroics on Sunday. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons has said his side will take nothing for granted in their Asia Cup Super Four clash against Bangladesh, despite dominating Sunday’s opponents in recent matches.

Afghanistan have won their past four matches in all formats against Bangladesh, including a 136-run win in the Asia Cup group stage and a 3-0 whitewash in a Twenty20 series in Bangladesh in June.

On Sunday, the two sides meet again at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, with Afghanistan looking to bounce back from their narrow defeat to Pakistan in their Super Four opener on Friday.

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“It’s another game and we go about like what we do ahead for every match,” said Simmons on Friday after the three-wicket loss to Pakistan. “First of all we are going to get some rest on Saturday and then assess how we play on Sunday.

“It’s an important game for both of us, even for pride. We are going to take this seriously as we did the other day.”

Afghanistan topped Group B after victories over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and gave Pakistan a real fright before losing with three balls to spare.

“It was a bit disappointing,” Simmons added. “It’s a case where we didn’t score more runs on a good wicket.

“Nevertheless, we fought until the end and we need to give Pakistan credit for batting well, especially Shoaib [Malik who hit 51 not out to get them over the line]. But all in all, it was a top class match.

“At one time they had the game with Imam [ul Haq] and Babar Azam playing well. It appeared they were taking the game away from us but we fought back and got ourselves back. However, at the end their batting proved a bit too strong for us.”

When asked about how his players were feeling after such a close defeat, Simmons said: “The atmosphere in the dressing room has always been good but there was bit disappointment after this game, particularly (Aftab) Alam for his last two balls. But in general the atmosphere is always good in the team.”

Aftab’s second ball in the last over was hit for six and the next was sent into the square leg fence for four as Malik steered Pakistan over the line with three balls to spare when they needed 10 runs off the last over.

Despite defeat, Simmons took a lot of positives from the three matches they played in the Asia Cup so far.

“There is a lot of pride that everything is improving in the team,” he said. “I spoke about the batting before I came here but the batting seems to be doing their work.

“Now everything seems to be coming together. Hopefully we can put together everything in the next eight months or so before the World Cup.”