When Bangladesh took on Afghanistan today (June 24) at The Rose Bowl, Southampton, they were outright favourites to win. Beating their tenth-placed opponents by 62 runs, Bangladesh further ignited their hopes of making it to the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
A target of 263 is not intimidating in modern day cricket, but it was a good total in the spin-friendly ground. To chase it down, Afghanistan needed to fire right from the beginning, but their approach puzzled many. Openers Rahmat Shah and Gulbadin Naib were laid back in their approach. Hashmatullah Shahidi, who is known for his explosive batting, played an extremely slow knock.
Afghanistan failed to score 80 runs in the first 20 overs, and the game was already half-lost. While former skipper Asghar Afghan and Samiullah Shinwari provided some stability to the innings after the top order's collapse, run-rate was mounting. Succumbing to the pressure was inevitable, and that was triggered by Shakib Al Hasan. The experienced all-rounder took 5 wickets by conceding just 29 runs.
Asked to bat first by Gulbadin Naib, Bangladesh found themselves in trouble after Liton Das was sent back in the fifth over by Mujeeb Ur Rahman. But the veteran duo of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan consolidated the innings.
After the former’s dismissal, it was the time for Mushfiqur Rahim to carry the innings forward. Rahim played an anchor’s knock of 83 runs from 87 deliveries to put Bangladesh in the driver’s seat but the innings still needed a great finish, which was provided by Mosaddek Hossain Saikat. The all-rounder scored a quick-fire 35 from just 24 deliveries.
Though the match had many great performers like Mushfiqur Rahim and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the star was Shakib Al Hasan. Firm and steady with the bat and cunning with the ball, the 32-year-old from Jessore didn’t put a foot wrong in this game, and perhaps, in the tournament.
Also see – Australia vs England head to head statsPublished 24 Jun 2019, 23:12 IST