BANGLADESH TRI-SERIES 2019
Shakib Al Hasan stroked an unbeaten 70 © BCB
Bangladesh finally broke the string of losses, which had stretched to four successive ones, to pick up a four-wicket win over Afghanistan in the last league game of the tri-series on Saturday (September 21).
With the advantage at the halfway stage, Bangladesh squandered their position to be reduced to 12 for 2 in Chattogram. But a Shakib Al Hasan special of an unbeaten 70 saw them through with an over to spare.
Chasing 139 for a win, in what was the dress-rehearsal for the final of the series, an inspired performance from the skipper denied Afghanistan their fifth win in a row against Bangladesh and denied them the momentum that they would’ve hoped to take into the final clash. Afghanistan’s bowlers, Mujeeb ur Rahman and debutant Naveen-ul-Haq choked Bangladesh in the opening overs, keeping them to just 18 in the first five overs, sending the openers back.
Naveen picked his maiden T20I wicket when Najmul Hossain Shanto was deceived by a slower one. Mujeeb induced a bottom edge off Liton Das as Bangladesh were on the backfoot early on. An extremely tough chance was put down by Shafiqullah. Had he had held on, it would’ve accounted for the vital wicket of Shakib, which could’ve changed the outcome of the game eventually. Although he got a hand to it leaping in the air, he couldn’t pull it off.
Shakib broke the shackles a couple of overs later with successive boundaries to get a move on, picking up Bangladesh form the mire they found themselves in early on with a fifty-run stand with Mushfiqur Rahim. To add to Afghanistan’s woes was them missing Rashid Khan’s wily leg-spin for a brief bit, who left the field with a hamstring injury. Not just did Afghanistan not have their skipper bowl, but also the substitute who took the field in his place, shelled a straightforward chance off Mushfiqur. However, Mushfiqur fell soon after, taking on the man on the boundary, getting a tad carried away after a six earlier in the over.
The equation was reduced to Bangladesh needing 67 in 54 balls when Rashid returned. Shakib was still going strong from one end, having had used his feet very well against the spinners in his 45-ball stay at the crease. Rashid returned to trap Mahmudullah leg before and then send back Afif Hossain in the next over as Bangladesh lost wickets in a heap. But it was in Rashid’s third over that he was taken for 18 runs, taking Bangladesh on the brink of victory. They crossed the line thereafter quite comfortably.
Bangladesh’s pacemen were able to extract a bit of movement early on, bogging down Afghanistan’s openers in the first three overs where they were just able to score 12 runs. They broke loose thereafter as boundaries flowed off their bats as they raced away to 75/0 in just nine overs. Hazratullah Zazai, in particular, was taking on Bangladesh’s bowlers, who couldn’t seem to contain him. That, until Afif Hossain was introduced into the attack, who was bowling his first over of the series.
With turn and bounce straightaway, he almost had Zazai cleaned up off his first ball. But that ‘almost’ lasted only a ball, as Zazai top-edged to give the bowler his maiden T20I wicket and break the threatening opening stand. Two balls later, Asghar Afghan attempted to go after him, only to be caught out in the deep as the bowler finished with a double-wicket maiden. It was curtains for Afghanistan thereafter, who threw away their wickets as Bangladesh roared back into the game. The ball was gripping the surface as the innings progressed and Bangladesh’s bowlers were making merry. From 75/0, Afghanistan eventually only managed to reach 138 for 7, which they reached thanks to an unbeaten 24-run stand for the eighth wicket, after losing 7 for 39.
Afghanistan’s collapse was very similar to the one against Zimbabwe yesterday to finish with a below-par total, losing wickets in clumps in the second-half after a strong start. And just like yesterday, they succumbed to a defeat.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 138/7 in 20 overs (Hazratullah Zazai 47; Afif Hossain 2-9) lose to Bangladesh 139/6 in 19 overs (Shakib Al Hasan 70*; Naveen-ul-Haq 2-20, Rashid Khan 2-27) by four wickets.