|| Desk Report ||
Bangladesh defeated Afghanistan by three runs to stay alive in the Asia Cup on the back of Mustafizur Rahman’s superb last over display and two timely half centuries by Mahmudullah Riyad and Imrul Kayes at United Arab Emirates on Sunday.
Afghanistan required eight runs off the last over before cutter-master showed his class to give away only five runs while also taking the wicket of Rashid Khan in the hot and humid condition at the Sheikh Jayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Afghanistan were cruising to victory on the back of two brilliant innings from Mohammad Shahzad (53) and Hasmutullah Shahidi(71) before the latter was bowled out by Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.
Later Ashgar Afghan, Samiullah Shinwari and Mohammad Nabi came up with crucial knocks of 39, 23 and 38 runs, respectively, before Shakib Al Hasan got rid of danger man Nabi to turn things around.
Bangladesh restricted Afghanistan to 246-7 after posting 249-7 where they survived two mini collapses in their batting.
Mahmudullah struck 74 off 81 while Imrul Kayes scored an unbeaten 72 off 89 balls as Bangladesh posted the fighting total on the score oard.
Bangladesh’s innings halted twice in the game after they elected to bat first as two early wickets and two unexpected run-outs of Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim in the middle held the Tigers to 87-5 in 21 overs.
Mahmudullah and Imrul Kayes put up a 128-run stand, the highest sixth wicket stand for Bangladesh in ODIs, to lift Bangladesh after another low-scoring total was looming.
Mahmudullah completed his 20th ODI fifty while Imrul, who got a surprise late call up for the tournament, played the role of an anchor.
Despite losing first two wickets for 18 runs Bangladesh somehow managed to keep the scoreboard ticking as Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das put up a 63-run stand for the third wicket.
Rashid Khan ended the pair when he dismissed Liton for 41 runs.
The Tigers suffered a serious blow when Shakib got run out for a duck in the second ball he faced.
Mushfiq, who become the third Bangladeshi player to complete 5,000 runs during his innings, suffered the same fate two overs later after scoring 33 runs.
Despite an uproar over the failure of top-order and addition of Imrul and Soumya Sarkar to the squad Bangladesh kept their faith in Liton and Nazmul Hossain as openers.
While Liton, who scored 13 runs in previous three matches, could show at least some promise this time, Nazmul put a big question over his talent attempting a wild slog before fifth over was completed.
Rahmat Shah took a simple catch off Aftab Alam as Nazmul departed for six after making 14 runs in the previous two matches.
In order to save Shakib for late overs, Bangladesh promoted Mohammad Mithun in one-down position but he too failed to grab the chance.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman trapped Mithun lbw to leave Bangladesh tottering once again.
Bangladesh made two changes from their seven-wicket mauling against India, bringing in Imrul for Mosaddek Hossain and debutant spinner Nazmul Islam for Rubel Hossain.
Afghanistan brought back Samiullah Shenwari for Najibullah Zadran in their only change from three-wicket loss to Pakistan in the previous game.
Meanwhile, India defeated Pakistan by nine wickets to head towards the final after beating Bangladesh in the opening game of the Super Four fixture.
BAN - 249/7 (50 Overs)
AFG – 246/7 (50 Overs)
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