Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets on Tuesday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the Asia Cup, thanks to a strong showing from the spinners and a memorable cameo from Najibullah Zadran.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3/16) and Rashid Khan (3/22) of Afghanistan’s ace spinners destroyed a careless Bangladesh batting order to reduce the opposition to 127.
Before Najibullah’s aggressive 43 not out off 17 balls, which included six sixes, drove his side over the finish line in 18.3 overs, Bangladesh muzzled Afghanistan in the run chase.
As part of an unbroken 69-run partnership off 36 balls with Najibullah, Ibrahim Zadran also contributed 42 off 41 balls.
Afghanistan won their second game in a row and became the first group to earn a spot in the Super 4. However, Afghanistan had similar difficulties pushing the scoring rate as Bangladesh did.
Shakib Al Hasan, the captain of Bangladesh, began bowling first and finished with outstanding figures of 1 for 13 in four overs.
The other bowlers were also accurate, making it difficult for the Afghan batsman to score against them.
Afghanistan needed 80 runs off the last 10 overs after losing their openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (11), who fell for 23, and Hazratullah Zazai (23).
It seemed like the game would go down to the wire since the hitters were finding it difficult to get massive hits. However, Najibullah swiftly alters the game’s trajectory with a flurry of sixes.
It was only natural that the left-hander scored six runs to end the game.
Earlier, Mossadek Hossain was the only Bangladeshi hitter to play shrewdly and save his country’s face (48, not out off 31 balls).
However, the team’s usual strength, the spin, created havoc here as Mujeeb and Rashid split three wickets apiece. In Afghanistan’s previous game, the pacers rocked Sri Lanka.
The Bangladesh hitters decided to take cross-batted strokes against the spinners, which ultimately proved to be their undoing. The spinners had a clear strategy to target the stumps.
Mujeeb struck three times during the powerplay, shattering the foundation of Bangladesh’s batting.
Before Anamul Haque (5) attempted the slog sweep and was unsuccessfully stuck in front of the stumps, he successfully utilized the slider to go past the left-handed Mohammad Naim’s (6) stumps.
Shakib Al Hasan, the opposition’s captain, was Mujeeb’s third victim. Shakib hit a terrible stroke, which caused his stumps to fall out.
Number one spinner Rashid then eliminated the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim (1) with a googly.
With a leg-break, he dismissed left-handed Afif Hussain (12 off 15 balls), leaving Bangladesh in terrible shape at 53 for five.
The batters did not have time to release their arms due to the rapid tempo at which both spinners bowled.
The seasoned Mahmudullah (25) and Hossain stabilized the innings, but the damage had already been done.
In the 20th over, medium-pacer Azamatullah Omarzai entered the game and performed well to allow only seven runs.