Afghanistan’s Najibullah Zadran and Ibrahim Zadran shake hands with Bangladesh players after theire T20 Asia Cup match in Sharjah on Tuesday. AP
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Mujib Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan shared six wickets between them to help Afghanistan set up a convincing seven-wicket victory over Bangladesh in their Asia Cup match in Sharjah on Tuesday.
After restricting Bangladesh to 127/7, Afghanistan reached the target for the loss of three wickets with nine balls remaining.
With their second consecutive victory, Afghanistan booked their berth in the Super 4 stage. Top two team from each group will advance to the Super 4 and Afghanistan became the first team to seal a spot in the Super 4.
Chasing, Afghanistan also got off to a faltering start as Bangladesh tried to make some in-roads through their bowlers before Najibullah Zadran (43) and Ibrahim Zadran (42) added 69 runs for the fourth wicket to take them over the line.
Najibullah and Ibrahim took the game deep before flexing their muscles after Bangladesh had dismissed their top three batsmen with just 62 runs on the board.
Najibullah was more brutal of the two as he smashed a quick-fire 43 off 17 deliveries, smacking six sixes and one four.
Earlier, Afghanistan spin duo of Mujibur and Rashid wreaked a havoc. They ripped through the Bangladesh’s batting line-up. There was an abject surrender by Bangladesh’s top order.
It was very much expected that spin trio of Mujeeb, Rashid and Nabi will lead the Afghanistan charge. They have one of the best spin attacks in the world.
Bangladesh’s batting line-up crumbled like a pack of cards under the pressure as they looked clueless against the guile of Afghanistan spin duo.
Sharjah has become Mujeeb’s favourite hunting ground. He had taken five wickets in the span of 16 deliveries against Scotland during the T20 World Cup last year, ending their dream of moving into the next round.
It was Mujeeb, who triggered the collapse. He got rid of Mohammad Naim in the second over to give Afghanistan first breakthrough. In his second over, Mujeeb trapped Anamul Haque to push Bangladesh on the back foot.
Bangladesh needed someone to play a big innings to crawl back into the game. With their two most experience batsmen Shakin Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh were still hopeful of posting a fighting total.
Both Shakib and Mushfiqur have returned to the squad after a long lay-off due to injuries. But Mujeeb had different plans. His insatiable appetite for the wickets was still far from over.
Mujeeb rattled the stumps of Shakib to reduce Bangladesh to 24-3 in 5.3 overs. Being the most experienced batsman, the onus of taking the innings forward came on the shoulder of Mushfiqur.
But to the dismay of Bangladesh fans, Msuhfiqur could not last long as fell prey to Rashid. The wily spinner trapped him in front of the wickets to leave Bangladesh in tatters.
With top four batsmen back in the pavilion, Bangladesh were struggling on 28/4. They looked set to be bowled out for a score of under 100. Afif Hossain and Mahmudullah played resolutely and shared a 25-run partnership for the fifth wicket to take the score past 50.
Both the batsmen played bravely and played out a few overs to bring the situation under control. But Rashid struck again and caught Hossain plumb in front of wickets.
Mahmudullah was waging the war single handedly. He was joined by Mosaddek Hossain. Both the batsmen played with determination and showed their fighting spirit.
They knuckled down to pull Bangladesh out of the rut. Both the players added a valuable 36 runs and took the score to 89-6. But Rashid got Mahmudullah caught by Ibrahim. He scored a watchful 25 off 27 deliveries, hitting just one four.
Now Mosaddek was joined by young Mahedi Hasan. They played some attacking shots to spur the run rate. The duo shared a 38-run stand – the biggest partnership of the innings – to help Bangladesh post a fighting total of 127 before Hasan was found short of his crease in a bid to take a suicidal run. Mosaddek scored a 31-ball 48 with the help of four boundaries as Bangladesh reached a respectable total of 127/7.