Bangladesh 78-1 beat
Afghanistan 72 by 9 wickets
ICC World Twenty20 2014 Group A, Dhaka
Hosts Bangladesh made light of any talk of an upset as they eased past an overawed Afghanistan by nine wickets in the opening game of the ICC World Twenty20 in Dhaka.
A victory for Afghanistan over the hosts in the Asia Cup, a tournament also held in Bangladesh, had raised beliefs that a shock might be on the cards, yet in truth Mushfiqur Rahim’s side were in complete control from the off.
In front of an expectant full house, Bangladesh elected to insert their Associate opponents. The visitors never got to grips with the task in hand and were shot out for the second ever lowest International Twenty20 total of just 72 - their spin induced misery ended early in the 18th over.
That target was never going to be a test even on a pitch conducive to turn, with Anamul Haque’s unbeaten 44 taking his side home with 48 balls remaining and in the process sending the vociferous crowd wild.
The opening delivery of the tournament set the tone for the Afghanistan innings, with the dangerous Mohammad Shahzad swinging wildly to gift a simple catch to Mahmudallah off Mashrafe Mortaza. For five overs Najab Tarakai and Gulbodin Naib led a charmed life as they continued to look to thrash, perhaps misjudging a pitch where a little more accumulation and application was the order of the day.
Naib’s luck ran out with the score on 36, Shakib Al Hasan having him caught in the deep for what turned out to be the innings top score of 21. That was the first of three wickets to fall without a run being scored, Shakib removing Tarakai with his very next ball before Nawroz Mangal fell victim to the mounting pressure and was run out.
From that position Afghanistan were always struggling and caught in a battle of a stick or twist they folded meekly, with only the talented Shafiqullah (18) offering any genuine resistance before he fell to Mahmudullah – his wicket one of four that fell for three runs to conclude the innings.
The spinners did the main bulk of the damage, Shakib finishing with three for eight, Mahmudullah one for eight from his allocation and Abdur Razzaq four for 20 including the key wicket of Afghan skipper Mohammad Naib for just three. Remarkably these slower bowlers picked up a combined six for 67 from 12.1 overs, perhaps indicating the pattern this tournament may take.
Anamul and the returning Tamim Iqbal ensured there would be no nervy chase, putting on 45 before Tamim departed to Samiullah Shenwari for 21 in the eighth over. The impressive Shakib (10 not out) then joined Anamul to take Bangladesh to a routine victory, with the latter hitting three sixes and four fours in his 33-ball knock.
Bangladesh will undoubtedly feel a whole lot better about things, having got what was a potential banana skin out of the way, and have also avenged that disappointing Asia Cup loss.
Fixtures against Nepal and Hong Kong should in theory represent routine victories for Bangladesh and with it a place in the Super 10s, meaning Afghanistan are likely to be left with just pride to play for in their contests against those sides.
© Cricket World 2014