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Asia Cup: Bangladesh a dominant victory against Afghanistan in Lahore

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Facing a must-win game to keep their Asia Cup campaign alive, Bangladesh rose to the occasion to register a convincing 89-run win over Afghanistan in Lahore on Sunday (September 3). The highlight of the victory was that it was helmed by Bangladesh’s gen-next talents; Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Najmul Hossain Shanto scored centuries with the bat to set it up before Shoriful Islam and Taskin Ahmed did the damage later with the ball to quash Afghanistan’s hopes. The margin of victory effectively confirmed Bangladesh’s progression to the Super 4s.

Opting to bat on a good batting surface, Bangladesh got an above-par total thanks to the 194-run stand between Mehidy and Najmul for the third wicket. The former was promoted to open the batting as a stop-gap option with Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das absent in the tournament. The all-rounder did more than hold his own as he paced his innings well to register a crafty century. He played the silent partner initially as Najmul took the bowling on but once set, runs came from both ends.

Afghanistan were very nervy from the start. They sprayed the new ball around a fair deal, allowing the Bangladesh batters to get set and their spinners couldn’t work the usual magic on a pitch that didn’t offer much turn at all. Mohammad Naim fell after getting a start and Towhid Hridoy soon fell for a duck but apart from that passage of play, Bangladesh’s batting hardly broke a sweat. Afghanistan’s key man Rashid Khan had an off-day as he returned wicketless and also conceded at over 6 runs-per-over – both very unusual stats for the leggie.A hand injury eventually forced Mehidy to retire hurt after he reached three figures and Najmul soon ran himself out but the platform the duo laid allowed the likes of Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan to flex their muscles at the back end. For a change, the senior pair could bat without any pressure and they took the bowling on to propel the score past the 330-run mark.

Afghanistan needed an ideal start to make a game of such a big chase but that unfortunately didn’t happen. Shoriful was on fire with the new ball and his dismissal of Rahmanullah Gurbaz early in the innings dented Afghanistan badly. Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah joined hands to stitch a partnership but the rate of scoring was too slow for the target they had to chase. Rahmat in particular even found it tough to rotate strike. Ibrahim managed to shift gears but by then, the task had gone to gargantuan proportions. Both batters fell to the pressure and the chase tapered off.

Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi produced a fifty to keep some sort of a fight alive but Afghanistan were always up against it. They needed their captain to bat deep and also needed Najibullah Zadran to fire but neither happened. Taskin, who also bowled an equally impressive new ball spell, returned to chip away at the wickets and only a few blows from Rashid delayed the inevitable.

‘Afghanistan have a glimmer of hope to avoid elimination but will have to beat Sri Lanka by a massive margin to ensure that their net run rate goes above the Islanders. In either case, Bangladesh remain unaffected and are through.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 334/5 in 50 (Mehidy Hasan Miraz 112, Najmul Hossain Shanto 104, Shakib Al Hasan 32*) beat Afghanistan 245 in 44.3 (Ibrahim Zadran 75, Hashmatullah Shahidi 51; Taskin Ahmed 4-44, Shoriful Islam 3-36) by 89 runs.

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