Afghanistan undermine Bangladesh comprehensively

Mohammad Isam, in ESPNcricinfo, 3 June 2018, with title as “Shenwari and spinners topple Bangladesh”

Afghanistan 167 for 8 (Shahzad 40, Shenwari 36, Mahmudullah 2-1) beat Bangladesh 122 (Liton 30, Mahmudullah 29, Rashid 3-13, Zadran 3-40) by 45 runs

Mohamed Nabi   Rashid Khan

Afghanistan began their historic tour of India with a dominant performance against Bangladesh, crushing them by 45 runs in the first T20 in Dehradun. The clinical display went along expected lines as their big-hitters Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari and Shafiqullah got them to competitive 167 for 8 in 20 overs. That set it up for the usual suspects – Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman – to do their thing and dismantle Bangladesh, as they were bowled out for 122 in 19 overs.

Having broken the back of the chase, Rashid snaffled an excellent catch – diving to his left and grabbing Abu Jayed’s slap overhead with both hands – giving Afghanistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. It was a complete performance from Afghanistan, characterised by a clinical bowling performance that didn’t give Bangladesh any chance of chasing down the total.

Bangladesh began a tough chase on the wrong foot. Tamim Iqbal paid for indecision – caught between sweeping and defending Mujeeb’s first ball of the innings – to be pinned in front of middle and off. Shakib Al Hasan struck two fours, before poor shot selection, against the turn of Mohammad Nabi, cost him his wicket in the fourth over.

Liton Das looked slightly more accomplished at the crease. During the course of a 20-ball 30, Liton treated the crowd to a sweetly-timed cut, a switch-hit, and a soaring six over long-on. But after he fell to Nabi, to a questionable decision in the eighth over, Bangladesh imploded against Rashid Khan.

Mushfiqur Rahim and Sabbir Rahman fell off his first two balls, in the 11th over, when the game was still in the balance; Mushfiqur missing a reverse sweep, and Sabbir caught clueless against a quick googly. Mosaddek Hossain struggled for 23 balls before holing out in the deep to give Rashid his third wicket.

The rest of the Afghanistan attack, too, played a part in reining in Bangladesh. Shapoor Zadran, like Rashid, took three wickets, but leaked 40 runs in his four overs. Nabi took two wickets, and Mujeeb and Karim Janat took one each.

Earlier, Mohammad Shahzad and Usman Ghani got Afghanistan off to a sound start, putting on 62 runs for the first wicket. Ghani struck the first six of the game in the fifth over, but after yet another over went without a boundary – five out of 8.2 at that stage – Rubel Hossain snuck past a desperate attempt at a slog and pegged his leg stump back.

Shahzad, too, struggled to get going after the Powerplay overs. He was dropped by Shakib, off his own bowling, at the start of 12th over, and ended it by reverse-sweeping him straight to point. He had made 40 off 37 balls, with five fours.

Mahmudullah’s double-strike in the 14th over, where he dismissed Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi, left Afghanistan with the tough task of rebuilding the innings with six overs remaining. But Bangladesh gave away the advantage in the last four overs.

First, Mahmudullah dropped Samiullah Shenwari in the 17th over at the long-on boundary, before Shenwari swatted Abu Jayed for two sixes and as many fours in the following over. He fell off the last ball of the same over, but his 18-ball 36, with three fours and as many sixes, had revived Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah started with a six off the first ball he faced, before hammering Abul Hasan for two more in the last over. He fell off the next ball, and even though Afghanistan lost two more wickets in the last over, Rashid Khan’s last-ball six gave them a strong finish.

Afghanistan took 62 runs off the last four overs, with Mahmudullah, despite his two-wicket over, never returning to bowl.

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Shenwari and spinners topple Bangladesh
After Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari and Shafiqullah lifted Afghanistan to a competitive 167, their spinners – Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman – snuffed out Bangladesh’s chase with a clinical bowling performance to take the home team

Advantage Afghanistan in spin-friendly Dehradun
After crushing Bangladesh in a warm-up match with a second-string side, Afghanistan are firm favourites, but Bangladesh have the nous to counter the opposition’s spinners and exploit their weaknesses with the bat

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