Bangladesh – strong semi-final contender after beating Afghanistan
Bangladesh has made a strong case of reaching the World Cup semi-final, by today beating Afghanistan by 62 runs at Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. The winning side, clinched the match, with greater experience in its ranks, besides another outstanding all-round performance by Shakib Al Hasan.
Bangladesh 262 – 7 (Mushfiqur Rahim 83, Shakib Al Hasan 51; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 3-39)
Afghanistan 200 (Gulbadin Naib 47, Samiullah Shinwari 49*; Shakib Al Hasan 5-29, Mustafizur Rahman 2-32)
Result - Bangladesh won by 62 runs
To many cricket fans, Afghanistan-Bangladesh World Cup pool game was nothing more than a battle amongst the minnows. It might be the case as far as red ball Test cricket is concerned but not quite in the white ball World Cup event. The two sides – representing contrasting cultures and temperaments - were eager for a victory, in a rivalry that has been described as ‘tense’.
Bangladesh have certainly grown in confidence after each game in the World Cup, now in its fourth week. Its performance against big teams have been a revelation and now after seven games, are placed fifth in the World Cup points
By earlier recording victories against South Africa and West Indies, it has given itself a realistic chance to grab a semi-final spot. Even in its defeats against New Zealand and Australia, Bangladesh were competitive all the way and never at any staged looked overawed.
Seven straight defeats in the World Cup will not dampen Afghanistan spirit by any stretch of the imagination. Its determination and resolve would, no doubt, have been boosted by its outstanding display against India. A narrow defeat against one of the front runners underlined Afghanistan’s potential to upset.
On a muggy overcast morning, Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib, opted to bowl first, with the match starting, following a ten- minute delay, at 10.40am. He was happy to get his two off-spinners – Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Mohammad Nabi – bowling in tandem, in the opening powerplay.
After a steady 44-1, Bangladesh’s lowest total in the first powerplay of the World Cup, the experienced pair of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, upped the scoring rate through running well and picking up an odd boundary. Afghanistan, through disciplined bowling, backed up by enthusiastic fielding, had restricted the scoring to 95-2 after 20 overs.
Shakib, already scores of 75, 64, 121, 124 not out & 41, to his name brought up his fifty off 66 balls, before falling leg before to Mujeeb for 51 and Bangladesh 143-3 in the 30th over.
Afghanistan really kept it tight as the score slowly moved to 161-4 in 35 overs, with the last of the nine boundaries having come in the 23rd over and last 10 overs producing just 29 runs. Mahmudullah’s leg injury did hamper his team to some extent though Mushfiqur Rahim brought his fifty off 56 balls with the first six of Bangladesh’s innings in the 37th over.
Mushfiqur’s experience was key as he propelled the Bangladesh total to a competitive 262-7,with his well-paced 83 off 87 balls, containing 4 fours and a six. The last 10 overs were worth 69 runs as Mossadek Hossain provided the finishing touches by hitting 4 boundaries in his 35 off 24 balls.
With collective experience of 130 ODIs between them, Afghanistan opening pair of Gulbadin Naib and Rahmat Shah, negotiated the first powerplay and 48 runs on the board. On the biggest playing square among the grounds used for the World Cup matches, the batsmen needed to rely on deft placement and decisive running. Sadly both were missing, as tidy Bangladesh spinners only conceded 29 runs in 10 overs, to keep the opposition to 77-1 after 20 overs.
By sending back Gulbadin (47 off 75 balls, 4 fours) and Nabi, within three balls in over number 29, Shakib gave Bangladesh, its first sniff of a victory. With last recognised pair – Asghar Afghan and Samiullah Shinwari – carrying the country’s slim hope, Afghanistan required152 runs in the last 20 overs with six wickets in hand. Its inexperience lower order found it too much.
After claiming the fifth wicket on 117, Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe, attacked with two close-in fielders and the game slipped even further away from Afghanistan. The spirited seventh-wicket partnership between Shinwari (unbeaten 49 off 51 balls) and Najibullah Zadran (run-a-ball 23) added 50 runs in 41 balls but their team still needed 97 runs in the last 10 overs.
By breaking the stand, Shakib picked up his fifth wicket and it was the first such feat by a Bangladesh bowler in World Cup. His final analysis (5-29) are also the best of the current tournament. Afghanistan all out for 200 in 47 overs, gave Bangladesh a well-deserved victory.
Bangladesh - Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim(wk), Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehedi Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Mustafizur Rahman
Afghanistan - Gulbadin Naib(c), Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Rashid Khan, Ikram Ali Khil(wk), Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
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