Asia Cup: All-round Afghans in last four
Afghanistan bowlers did an impressive job once again after bamboozling Sri Lanka in the tournament opener last Saturday. The batsmen, too, ensured their effort early on didn’t go waste as they played with precision to overhaul Bangladesh’s modest total of 127 for 7 by seven wickets at the Sharjah Stadium on Wednesday.
The seven-wicket victory with nine balls to spare in this group B game helped Afghanistan register their second straight win as they also became the first team to qualify for the Super Fours of this Asia Cup. Spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3/16) and Rashid Khan (3/22) starred with the ball after Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat on a sluggish wicket.
Thereafter, with the bat, the Zadran duo — Ibrahim (42 not out) and the left-handed Najibullah (43 not out off just 17 balls) — stitched an unbroken 69-run stand in just 5.3 overs, which helped Afghanistan race home.
Bangladesh spinners, too, were making life tough for the Afghans as they were struggling at 62 for 3 after 13 overs. But Ibrahim and Najibullah did well to avoid rash strokes against the spinners.
As soon as the spinners were done with their quota of overs, the duo, particularly Najibullah, pounced on the quicks. Of the six maximums the southpaw smashed, four of them came off the bowling of pacers Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin. Earlier, led by Mujeeb, Afghan spinners were immaculate with their wicket-to-wicket line, bowling a wicket-to-wicket line that created all sorts of problems for the Bangladesh batsmen.
That said, the substandard shot selection from their batters was also a reason why Bangladesh had slipped to 24 for 3 inside the Powerplay and 53 for 5 halfway into the 11th over.
It was purely because of Mosaddek Hossain’s unbeaten 48 off 31 balls and his 38-run seventh-wicket stand with Mahedi Hasan (14) that Bangladesh could cross 120. Mosaddek finished with four boundaries and a maximum. He did show a little bit of application which his other batting colleagues, including captain Shakib-al Hasan, did not.
Brief scores: Bangladesh 127/7 in 20 overs (M. Hossain 48 n.o.; M. Rahman 3/16, R. Khan 3/22). Afghanistan 131/3 in 18.3 overs (N. Zadran 43 n.o., I. Zadran 42 n.o.). Afghanistan won by 7 wickets