It was not as easy as Bangladesh’s margin of victory over Afghanistan shows. They had only reached 119/4 in the 30th over with Afghani bowlers applying pressure. But a 15-over blast from Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim carried the score to 267/10. There was another middle order collapse after Shakib and Rahim piled up 114 for the fifth wicket and the last six Bangla wicket fell in a heap for the addition of just 34 runs. With a little bit of luck, Afghanistan’s World Cup debut could have been magical but they lost their first three wickets with 3 runs on the board. After that their priorities shifted to preserving the wickets and the scoring slowed down. The time taken for recovery meant the debutants were 162 all out in the 43rd over. Regardless, Afghanistan came out of the match with several positive factors especially in the bowling department. Hamid Hassan stole the honor of bowling his country’s first ball in the World Cup. Hassan and Shapoor Zadran kept the Bangladeshi openers on a tight leash for 14 long overs, after which the scoring rate barely crossed 3. Then Mirwais Ashraf removed both openers in the space of two overs. The afghan bowlers also bowled creditably towards the end of Bangladesh innings and bowled the side out.
Afghan skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and decided to bat first. But Anamul Haque and Tamim Iqbal could not get going against Afghan bowlers, who kept the openers quiet. Both Tamim and Anamul are known as blasters but their inability to find gaps made them grow into restless souls. Pushed into corner by some exemplary bowling, Tamim tried to cut Mirwais Ashraf and nearly ended up being caught behind. Then in a moment of another frustration, Tamim and Anamul had a dangerous mix-up and somehow avoided a run-out. Ashraf was relentless and finally he removed both Tamim and Anamul. Tamim was finally caught behind off Ashraf for 19 off 42 balls and Anamul fell leg-before for 29 off 55. Ashraf had a superb first spell, which was later spoiled, when Soumya Sarkar hammered 15 off his ninth over after the bowler had only yielded 17 from his first eight. Before Shakib and Musfiqur arrived, Soumya and Mahmudullah resurrected the Bangla innings with a patient 50-runs third-wicket stand. But Shapoor Zadran removed both Soumya and Mahmudullah in his second spell to make it 119/4 with just 21 overs left for batting.
It was here that Bangladesh benefitted from a blazing fifth wicket blast from Shakib Al Hasan and Musfiqur Rahim. The two batsmen assumed control of the innings and began by picking up ones and twos that disrupted the Afghani bowling rhythm. In the batting power-play, the pair realized 48 invaluable runs and soon reached their individual half-centuries. But with last five overs left, Afghanistan bowlers struck once again. First Hamid Hasan bowled Shakib after the batsman had reached 63 off 51 balls, with 6 fours and a six. Fall of Shakib opened a Pandora’s Box for Afghanistan as the next five wickets fell for the addition of just 34 runs. Mushfiqur lost his wicket after scoring a 71 off 56 and except Mortaza’s 9-ball 14, no other batsman got among the runs as the Bangla innings folded at 267 in 50 overs.
The Afghan chase of 268 began disastrously with Mashrafe Mortaza removing opener Javed Ahmadi off the last ball of the first over as the batsman popped a simple return catch. The other opener, Afsar Zazai, perished on the next ball, when Rubel Hossain trapped him LBW as he came on from the other end. In the third over, the score became 3/3, when Mortaza struck for the second time, when Asghar Stanikzai edged the bowler to Mahmudullah in the first slip. Now Afghanistan moved into the danger zone, where avoiding further loss of wickets became far more important than scoring runs. Samiullah Shenwari led the Afghan recovery with Nawroz Mangal for company. Shenwari hit the first boundary for Afghanistan, when he exquisitely crashed Mortaza through the covers. The two batsmen added 62 for the fourth wicket to bring a semblance of respectability to the score. But too many overs were already lost in the recovery, when Shenwari fell as the fifth wicket in the 26th over. From 78/5 at that stage, there was no way Bangladesh could lose. Afghanistan came up with another useful stand for the sixth wicket, when Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran added 58 runs. When the sixth wicket fell, they still required 131 in 15 overs. The later order batsmen couldn’t sustain the pressure and the entire Afghanistan innings caved in at 162 in 42.5 overs for a 105-run win for Bangladesh.
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