Mehidy, Shakib and Shanto help Bangladesh make short work of Afghanistan

Shakib and Miraz shared six wickets among them as Afghanistan spectacularly imploded, as only Rahmanullah Gurbaz (47 off 62 balls) offered some token fight.

October 07, 2023 12:06 pm | Updated 10:02 pm IST -  Dharamsala

Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan celebrate after taking a wicket during Match 3 between Bangladesh and Afghanistan at HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala on Saturday.

Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan celebrate after taking a wicket during Match 3 between Bangladesh and Afghanistan at HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala on Saturday. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

“When the man is the man, the man is the man.” Eric Clapton’s memorable line about Ian Botham more than three decades ago, after his hundred against Essex, came to mind as Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, playing his fifth World Cup, clean bowled Najibullah Zadran with an arm-ball for his third wicket of the match on October 7.

For a period, midway through the first innings at the HPCA Stadium, Afghanistan might have hoped for a player of Jonathan Trott’s dour instincts. Someone with an over-my-dead-body attitude — so dire was the situation. But head coach Trott was in the Afghanistan dugout, sitting behind dark shades, surveying the kind of collapse that perhaps even he could not have contemplated. Afghanistan lost nine for 73 in 22.2 overs to be bowled out for 156, which was chased down by Bangladesh with six wickets and 92 balls to spare.

Afghanistan had begun well though after being asked to bat. Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz reeled off five stylish and sweetly timed boundaries that threatened to render Bangladesh fielders irrelevant. He was helped by the small dimensions of the ground and the strong crosswind, which even carried check-drives and check-pulls over the fence. But much to Gurbaz’s visible irateness, none of the other batters demonstrated anything like the combination of fluency, discipline, and attacking intent shown by him.

Hashmatullah Shahidi, the captain, was particularly struggling, getting stuck at one end, and robbing his set partner of strike. He battled and battled without ever looking comfortable, eventually falling to Mehidy for a 38-ball 18. A purposeful half-century from Gurbaz here could have served as an important bridge between the middle-order and the tail. But having been stuck in the late forties for a while, Gurbaz stepped out to Mustafizur Rahman, who cleverly bowled a slightly wide, slower ball which Gurbaz could only slice as far as the deep point fielder.

Bangladesh’s main finger-spinners, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Shakib, took six wickets for only 55 runs, while the quicks hit the pitch hard and created awkward angles with pace variations and clever use of crease.

Afghan bowlers fought hard and even had Bangladesh two down for very little. But two dropped chances helped Mehidy, who made 57, add 97 with Najmul Hossain Shanto (59 n.o.), and the modest total ensured Bangladesh didn’t fluff its lines.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 156 all out in 37.2 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 47; Shakib Al Hasan 3/30, Mehidy Hasan Miraz 3/25) lost to Bangladesh 158/4 in 34.4 overs (Mehidy Hasan Miraz 57, Najmul Hossain Shanto 59 not out; Fazalhaq Farooqi 1/19)

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