The best of Bangladesh not enough avoiding humiliation

Saleque Sufi

The best of Bangladesh not enough avoiding humiliation
Photo: Associated Press

Afghanistan Vs Bangladesh T20 International Played at Dehradun, India
Afghanistan 145/6 (Samiullah Shenwari 33*, Asghar Stanikzai 27, Mohammad Shahzad 26, Nazmul 2/18 , Jayed 2/ 27) beat Bangladesh 144/6 (Mushfiqur 46, Mahmudullah 45). (Three Bangladesh Batsmen Soumya, Litton and Mahmudullah were run outs) by 1 run.
Afghanistan won the series 3-0

Man of the Match: Mushfiqur Rahman
Man of the Series; Rashid Khan

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Bangladesh bowled and fielded much better today, executed the plans better. But even that better performance just fell short of a face saving win for avoiding the ignominy of a series white wash to a rookie ICC full member country Afghanistan.

We must give Afghans the due credit for not losing their focus after winning the series with one match to spare. Rashid bowled two excellent overs – 18th and 20th against two seasoned batsmen Mahmudullah Riyad and Mushfiqur Rahim.

Especially removing Mushfiqur on the very first ball in the last over after he blasted 21 off the 19th over of Karim secured the series white wash. What a wonderful bowler he is! A wise head on young shoulders.

Very spirited Afghan cricket team deserves all the credit for winning the tight match by 1 run and white washing Bangladesh. With three world class spinners, Afghans would soon turn the table on other favorites as well if their batsmen can somehow give them competitive targets to defend.

After losing the first two matches by huge margins, naturally Bangladesh were looking down the barrel. But in the third match, playing for pride, Bangladesh almost made it by bowling and fielding exceedingly well. Afghans were restricted to a below par score of 145/6 when they opted to bat again on a slow sluggish wicket.

Bangladesh looked a bit panicked chasing the target after losing Tamim early. Soumya and Litton got themselves run out and Shakib again failed. For a while his bat is not talking his usual tone. He has become a 20 runs player. Over the entire IPL 2018 he batted poorly. Here in three T20Is he failed to do justice to his reputation not only with his batting but as match winning all rounder as well.

Two top dogs in the batting line up Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah were going smooth. Though tight bowling and committed fielding by Afghans kept the run rate under control. Great leggie Rashid Khan’s two overs were saved for the death over.

Two M’s were riding the rider’s boat steadily for a last stage surge. Surge Mushfiqur did in the 19th over smashing five fours and taking 21 runs after Rashid bowled an excellent 18th over giving away only 3 runs.

Bangladesh required 8 runs off Rashid’s last over. Wonder bowler struck gold with his very first delivery removing red hot Mushfiqur. He could strangle Mahmudullah and Ariful over the next five deliveries giving away only 6 runs. Afghans eventually won by a run and won the series 3-0.

Ariful struck a hefty blow on the last ball. It was going towards the boundary. But a desperate effort of Sharifullah from the boundary line not only saved it but his throw got Mahmudullah run out. Afghans did some snake dance white washing Bangladesh.

Prior to this, winning the toss and put into bat Afghans had to come across a much determined Bangladesh attack. On a slow track where balls were gripping Nazmul and Shakib bowled extremely well. Rubel and Sabbir were replaced with Abu Jayed and Ariful. Both contributed.

Still determined Afghans put up a competitive 145/6 mainly through efforts of Samiullah Shenwari (33), Asghar Stanikzai (27) and Mohammad Shahzad (26). Nazmul took 2/18 and Jayed got 2/27.

Bangladesh response again got off to a poor start when star opener Tamim fell to Mujeeb in the very third over. Soumya returning to the top order again was showing some glimpse of his aggressive self. When discretion was the order of the day Soumya and Litton lost their wickets in gay abundance. Both got run out through callous running between the wickets.

Shakib and Mushfiqur, two seasoned campaigners were expected to deliver. Shakib failed third time in the series getting out to Karim. Losing 4/53 by 9th over, Bangladesh had bat to the wall. However, Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah slowly steadied the boat on course.

Run scoring was difficult but the quality pair kept the target in sight preserving their wickets. They had in their minds of two Rashid overs Afghan captain saved for the death. Mushfiqur let loose planned aggression on Karim’s 19th over striking 5 consecutive boundaries.

Suddenly Bangladesh looked like winning the match. But Rashid on the first ball of the last over removed rampaging Mushfiqur. His cool head kept it tight. Bangladesh could only score 6 off the 8 required for the win Afghans won by 1 run.

It was a historic series win for rookie of ICC elite club member. A job very well done. For Bangladesh there is lot to ponder. In this particular game Bangladeshi batsmen looked like reading Rashid and Mujeeb better.

One concluding remarks we may make here that Bangladesh lack quality leg spinners. Playing against quality leg spin was vividly exposed in the series. Wonder why a nation of cricket crazy 160 plus million population can not find any leggie of quality while Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal could find few.

We are sure there would be lot of soul searching of the Bangladesh performance. But one thing for sure Bangladesh lost to a far more superior team. Congratulation Afghanistan on brilliant achievement.

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