In what was an inconsequential dead rubber in the Asia Cup, Afghanistan kept up their impressive form with a commanding 136-run win over Bangladesh at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Having put up a challenging 255-7 on the board after batting first, Afghanistan showed the quality in their bowling attack as they bundled out Bangladesh for just 119 runs.
With Afghanistan taking the top honours in Group B with two wins out of two, we take a look at the talking points.
IMPRESSIVE SHAKIB ROCKS AFGHANISTAN
After Bangladesh debutant Abu Hider had rocked the Afghanistan top-order with two early blows, Mohammad Shahzad and Hashmatullah Shahidi had resurrected the innings with a solid third-wicket stand.
The two batsmen’s fifty-plus partnership was threatening to take the game away from Bangladesh on a slow track before star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan came to the aid of the Tigers.
Despite nursing a finger injury in the tournament, Shakib showed no signs of any discomfort as he put on a master-class of left-arm spin. The Bangladesh star got Shahzad to hole out to long-on before running through the Afghan middle-order like an express train. He accounted for Asghar Afghan, Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi in an extended spell as Afghanistan found the going tough in the middle overs.
BIRTHDAY BOY RASHID KHAN’S CAMEO PROPELS AFGHANISTAN
After Shakib Al Hasan had broken the spine of their batting in the middle-overs, Afghanistan seemed to be headed for a sub-par score at Abu Dhabi before Rashid Khan and Gulbadin Naib turned the match upside down with an unbeaten 95-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Birthday boy Rashid smashed a 31-ball half-century with the help of eight boundaries and a massive six. It was only the second fifty in ODI cricket for the young wrist-spinner who just turned 20 with his only other half-century coming against Ireland in 2016.
He was ably supported by Naib who remained unbeaten on 42 with the help of eight boundaries. Their terrific acceleration in the death overs spoiled all the good work done by Bangladesh’s bowlers at the start as they went on to ensure that the Tigers would face an imposing chase of 256 on a crumbling surface.
NAIB AND RASHID EXCEL WITH BALL TOO AS TIGERS DISINTEGRATE
After turning on the heat with bat in hand, Naib and Rashid turned heroes for Afghanistan with the ball too as Bangladesh disintegrated on a slow pitch at the Sheikh Zayed stadium.
Naib’s medium pace was deadly effective at the start of Bangladesh’s innings and the 27-year-old inflicted two early blows. He first had the beating of Mominul Haque who edged behind to the wicketkeeper and then got Mohammad Mithun to chop a wide delivery onto the stumps.
His two early wickets meant Bangladesh had lost four wickets before Rashid had even come on to bowl. The wrist-spin prodigy wasted no time in inflicting further misery to a batting-card missing Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal by trapping the well-set Shakib plumb on the pads. He then provided the dagger blow to Bangladesh’s hopes by castling the stumps of Mahmudullah with a sublime googly.
With all of their established batsmen back in the pavilion before the score had even touched 100, the Tigers were always fighting an uphill battle and ultimately lost it in the face of Afghanistan’s enormous quality in their bowling attack.
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