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Tigers edge Afghans in cliffhanger

  • Published at 05:07 pm September 23rd, 2018
Imrul Kayes Asia Cup
Bangladesh's Imrul Kayes sweeps during their Asia Cup Super Four game against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi Sunday BCB

With this win, Bangladesh’s next match Wednesday against Pakistan, who also have won one of their first two games, have become a virtual semi-final as the winner of that match will meet India in the final

Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman bowled an astonishing last over to help his side clinch a sensational three-run victory against Afghanistan in their Asia Cup Super Four match in Abu Dhabi, UAE Sunday. 

Mustafizur had only eight runs to defend in the 50th over but the left-arm genius conceded just two runs and as many as the Tigers snatched victory from the depths of defeat. 

With this win, Bangladesh’s next match Wednesday against Pakistan, who also have won one of their first two games, have become a virtual semi-final as the winner of that match will meet India in the final. 

Alongside Mustafizur, captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza bagged two wickets.

Middle-order batsman Hashmatullah Shahidi and opener Mohammad Shahzad scored 71 and 53 respectively.

Earlier, one of the senior players of the Bangladesh team, all-rounder Mahmudullah is perhaps underrated, but he salvaged the side from a wreck once again. 

The unsung hero of the Tigers put together a record-breaking sixth-wicket stand with opener Imrul Kayes to help Bangladesh register a respectable 249 runs on the board for the loss of seven wickets.

Bangladesh went into the game with their backs to the wall and a defeat would have all but ended their hopes of staying alive in the tournament. 

But the Tigers were in all sorts of trouble as they lost half of their side for just 87 after batting first. 

However, the right-left partnership of Mahmudullah and Imrul held their nerve and added record 128 runs for the sixth wicket. Imrul’s effort was especially commendable as he arrived in the tough desert conditions just the previous day and it was the first time he batted in the middle-order in an ODI. 

The left-handed batsman had reached Dubai Saturday night to join the squad on an urgent basis, along with opener Soumya Sarkar.

Batting at No 6, he finished unbeaten on 72 off 89 balls. In his previous 70 ODIs, Imrul batted as an opener 61 times and at No 3 on nine occasions.

Meanwhile, Mahmudullah emerged as the saviour for Bangladesh yet again with a gritty 81-ball off 74, featuring three boundaries and two over-boundaries.   

Bangladesh made two changes in the side for the crucial encounter, bringing in the experienced Imrul in place of youngster Mosaddek Hossain and debutant Nazmul Islam in place of pacer Rubel Hossain. 

The Tigers in an almost do-or-die situation needed a solid start, and their early concerns with regards to opening had come true with youngster Nazmul Hossain Shanto departing for six, leaving the side on 16/1 in five overs. 

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Mithun, who made a brilliant half-century in the first match of the tournament against Sri Lanka, lasted just two balls to be dismissed for one. 

Stumper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim joined opener Liton Das and the duo looked to stabilise the innings before Liton got out playing a rash shot. 

The talented right-handed batsman, who has a horrific record of choosing wrong shots in many occasions, had hit a four in the previous ball but tried an ugly swipe off the next delivery from leg-spinner to be caught for 41. 

Two balls later, all-rounder Shakib al Hasan in silly fashion gifted his wicket away for a duck. The left-handed batsman facing his first ball in the game flicked it to mid-wicket and took off for a single, which was not there. 

Mushfiq had turned down the call and by the time Shakib could come to sense and turned back, a direct hit had had put him way back to the dressing room and bring in Imrul.

Six more runs to the board, Mushfiq departed looking good on 33, following a bizarre run-out, triggered from a no-calling between the two Bangladesh batsmen in the middle. The dismissal saw Mahmudullah arrive to the middle. He then partnered with Imrul and rescued the Tigers from yet another wreck.

BRIEF SCORE

Afghanistan 246/7 () lost Bangladesh 249/7 () by three runs