NEW DELHI: All-rounder
and middle-order batter
‘s dazzling centuries were followed by an all-round bowling performance as Bangladesh crushed Afghanistan by 89 runs in the crucial Asia Cup Group B match in Lahore on Sunday.
The victory for Bangladesh was their first in the tournament and kept their hopes of qualification for Super Fours alive. After losing their opener against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh were in a must-win situation and Hasan and Shanto stepped up in grand style to set up their team’s easy victory.
Promoted to open the innings, Mehidy struck a masterful 112 off 119 balls before retiring hurt, while Shanto made a superb 104 off 105 balls before getting run out towards the fag end of the innings.
Mehidy and Shanto added a terrific 194 runs off 190 balls for the third wicket before the former suffered an injury to his hand and had to leave the field.
Chasing a steep total, Ibrahim Zadran (75) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (51) struck half-centuries but with scoreboard pressure Afghanistan remained on the backfoot throughout, eventually folding for 245 in the 45th over.
As It Happened
Bangladesh bowlers, led by Taskin Ahmed (4/44 in 8.3 overs) and Shoriful Islam (3/36 in 9 overs) struck struck at regular intervals, never allowing Afghanistan to get ahead in the chase.
After the victory, Bangladesh were in second spot in Group B, while Afghanistan need to win their final game against Sri Lanka for a chance to progress in the Super Four stage.
Chasing 335, Afghanistan struggled to maintain the required run rate which kept on increasing as Bangladesh bowlers bowled dot balls to building pressure on their opponents.
Afghanistan did not have the best of starts as the big-hitting Rahmanullah Gurbaz (1) was trapped leg before by Shoriful Islam in the second over.
But Zardan and Rahmat Shah (33) batted intelligently to help Afghanistan recover from the early blow.
They took their side from 1/1 to 79/2 but just when they looked to make inroads, Taskin bowled a back of length delivery and just as Rahmat tried to slog it, the ball crashed into the top of off-stump.
At the halfway mark, Afghanistan needed nine runs per over to win. They tried to up the ante with Zardan hitting Miraz for a four, followed by a six over deep midwicket to collect 14 runs from the over.
But the Bangladesh bowlers were right on their mark on the night. Hasan Mahmud (1/61) accounted for the dangerous Zardan, which led to a mini batting collapse.
Najibullah Zadran (17), Shahidi, Gulabdin Naib (15), Mohammad Nabi (3) and Karim Janat (1) departed within the space of six overs.
Earlier, after an underwhelming batting display in their tournament opener, the Bangladesh batting unit gave a good account of itself.
Afghanistan bowlers were guilty of leaking runs, especially left-arm medium pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi (0/53 in 6 overs), as skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi struggled to find answers.
Even star spinner
(0/66 in 10 overs) was ineffective as he remained wicketless.
Playing in the scorching heat, Miraz put up a 60-run opening stand with Mohammad Naim (28) to give Bangladesh a strong start.
However, Afghanistan put Bangladesh in a spot of bother by claiming two wickets in quick succession.
Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1/62 in 10 overs) gave Afghanistan the first breakthrough as he cleaned up Naim with a perfect googly.
Medium pacer Gulbadin Naib (0/59 in 8 overs) then induced an outside edge to send Towhid Hridoy packing without opening his account.
Miraz then began the rebuilding act with Shanto. The two stitched a 215-run partnership.
The way both Shanto and Mehidy batted, it looked unlikely that any of the Afghan bowlers would be able to snare their wickets and that’s what exactly happened.
Miraz retired hurt in the 43rd over due to cramps in his left hand.
A few overs later, Shanto attempted a reverse sweep but slipped as he set off to take a run, putting an end to his spectacular innings.
Despite three run-outs, the Afghan fielding was found wanting on several occasions.
Skipper Shakib Al Hasan (11 not out) and Shamim Hossain (10) took Bangladesh past the 300-run mark.
(With inputs from PTI)