Mahmudullah, who was awarded the man-of-the-match for his excellent all-round performance, rated Mustafizur Rahman’s match-winning final over above his own performance
Bangladesh batsman Mahmudullah credited left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman’s last over as the turning point of Bangladesh’s three-run win over Afghanistan in their Asia Cup Super Four match at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi Sunday.
Afghanistan needed eight off the last over with four wickets in hand but they could fetch just four and finished on 246 for the loss of seven wickets chasing 250 runs.
Mahmudullah, who was awarded the man-of-the-match for his excellent all-round performance, rated Mustafizur’s match-winning final over above his own performance.
Player of the Match: Mahmudullah 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/QvlijoNbNU— ICC (@ICC) September 23, 2018
The right-handed batsman, who rose on many occasions as the saviour for the Tigers, scored an innings-saving 74 before picking up a crucial wicket and grasping a brilliant catch.
He formed a 128-run sixth wicket stand, a new Bangladesh record, with Imrul Kayes to resurrect the side from a precarious 81/5 and eventually that was pivotal for keeping the Tigers alive in the six-nation tournament.
With the win, Bangladesh’s last Super Four match against Pakistan have now become a virtual semi-final as both the sides have won against Afghanistan and got beaten by India. The winner of that match will face India in the final Friday.
India through to the Asia Cup final. Afghanistan out of contention.— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) September 24, 2018
The winner of the Pakistan-Bangladesh match will go through to the final. #INDvPAK report: https://t.co/jSfjCUcUBH #AFGvBAN report: https://t.co/ZIzO8j2tTl #AsiaCup2018 pic.twitter.com/bmxGOFXC5d
Afghanistan required eight in the 50th over as Mustafizur took his mark for the run-up. The first delivery went for two runs as Mustafizur took to the ground because of the cramping on his legs.
But following a bit of stretching the southpaw bowled a sharp in-cutter and onrushing batsman Rashid Khan’s shot ballooned into the air and the bowler barely had to move to complete the caught and bowled.
Samiullah Shenwari, who was on 23, got back the strike but the next ball beat his bat and popped off his thigh pad to the hands of Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza at short fine leg. The Tigers thought they got their man but umpire gave a leg bye.
Mustafizur then did the Houdini act as he foxed new batsman Gulbadin Naib with an immaculate cutter that went straight through to the keeper for a dot ball. Naib could somehow pick a leg bye in the next ball and batting side needed four off the final ball with Shenwari on strike.
But Mustafizur, who has flummoxed many a batsman around the world with his wily death bowling, bamboozled the 30-year old Afghan as his bat went out of his hand without connecting the ball that he tried to whack.
That dot ball not only saw Afghanistan succumb to their second straight defeat but also get eliminated from the tournament.
The Bangladesh cricketers roared into celebration as Mustafizur, looking up to the skies, broke Bangladesh’s jinx of losing a game in the last over, and also against Afghanistan.
Mustafizur finished with figure of 9-1-44-2.
“Probably after the last ball (I thought of winning the game), because it was quite close and they were playing really good cricket. Mustafizur bowled really well. I think all the bowlers bowled really well – Shakib [al Hasan], Mashrafe, [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz. I give special credit to Mustafizur because he was struggling with a hamstring problem.
So, he did it for our team, did it for our country, which is quite pleasing,” said Mahmudullah to the media following the game in Abu Dhabi Sunday.
ICYMI: Afghanistan and Bangladesh played out a sleeper hit at Abu Dhabi as Mustafizur Rahman defended 8 from the final over to knock plucky Afghanistan out of the #AsiaCup #AFGvBAN pic.twitter.com/Te2Z52ruHx— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) September 24, 2018
When queried as to whether his record 128-run sixth wicket stand with Imrul was the turning point of the game, Mahmudullah insisted that the credit of the win should solely go to Mustafizur.
Though not spoken, one can relate Mahmudullah’s thought might have been driven from the bitter fact of Bangladesh having lost close matches in the last over, with the last one coming against Afghanistan during the three-match T20I series in Dehradun, India earlier this year.
“I would say Mustafizur’s last over (was the turning point). Because although I would say our partnership was important, defending eight off six balls is not that easy. It was quite outstanding that he was able to do that,” said Mahmudullah.