Dehradun - In two weeks, Afghanistan's players will take part in possibly the most important game of their lives - their first ever Test match - and on Sunday, they will be preparing for it by going crash, bang, wallop in a T20I against Bangladesh.

If that seems a bit odd, don't worry, it's just the way cricket works these days. The BCB opted for T20s because Bangladesh don't play them often enough, and the Afghanistan Cricket Board, being the smaller board, had to oblige. The shortest format is right up Afghanistan's alley though. Their second-string side crushed Bangladesh by eight wickets in a warm-up match on Friday.

Afghanistan are also placed higher than Bangladesh in the ICC rankings. They trounced Zimbabwe in their most recent T20 series and possess a spin attack that has quickly become the envy of the world. With Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Afghanistan can bank on controlling more than half of their bowling innings.

To tackle them, Bangladesh will rely on the experience of Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah, and hope Liton Das, Mosaddek Hossain and Sabbir Rahman live up to their promise. Their bowling will almost entirely depend on Shakib, but Rubel Hossain, Mehidy Hasan and Nazmul Islam can provide good back-up.

Mohammad Shahzad is expected to be a major threat in the top order, but Afghanistan's batting is otherwise an area of concern. Rahmat Shah, their highest run-getter and only centurion in the last 12 months, is not in the T20 squad. Given their focus on youth, Afghanistan will want one of the younger batsmen, like Darwish Rasooli and Najeeb Tarakai, to step up in this series.

Bangladesh have already identified Rashid Khan to be their biggest threat. His stellar IPL campaign adds to his reputation of being a dangerous legspinner, particularly when he delivers them at a high pace. Mushfiqur Rahim could be one of the Bangladesh batsmen best equipped to take on Rashid and the other Afghanistan spinners. He was a major reason for Bangladesh making the final of the Nidahas Trophy in January; his unbeaten 72 against Sri Lanka to help chase down a target of 215 was characterised by superb death-overs boundary-hitting and Bangladesh would love more of the same in Dehradun.

Karim Sadiq is the only Afghanistan player missing from the XI that beat Zimbabwe in their last T20I in February. Tarakai, who is returning after more than a year, would hope to take Sadiq's place in the batting line-up. Young allrounder Karim Janat and Under-19 batsman Rasooli also remain in contention.

Bangladesh are searching for a replacement for Mustafizur Rahman, who is missing with a toe injury. And they are mainly looking at Abul Hasan, Abu Hider or Abu Jayed. Soumya Sarkar's spot in the line-up is also under threat with Mosaddek and Ariful Haque waiting in the wings.


AFGHANISTAN: M Shahzad (wk), Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Najeeb Tarakai, M Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Shafiqullah, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman

BANGLADESH: Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Abu Hider, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Islam