The series-deciding third ODI between Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Mirpur turned out to be a no-contest, which the hosts won by 141 runs to clinch the series. The match was virtually sealed in the 23rd over of Afghanistan’s 280 chase, when Samiullah Shenwari was dismissed, leaving Afghanistan on 83 for 5. They were eventually bowled out for 138 in 34th over to cap off a spin capitulation, led by comeback manMosharraf Hossain, who picked up three wickets with his left-arm spin. This was also Bangladesh’s 100th ODI win.
That Bangladesh could build scoreboard pressure on Afghanistan was largely due to Tamim Iqbal’s seventh ODI century that helped the side survive a middle-order implosion. Tamim now holds the record for the most ODI centuries by a Bangladesh batsman. Sabbir Rahman, who made 65, complemented Tamim in a 140-run second-wicket stand and Mahmudullah provided the late impetus with a cameo 32 which left Afghanistan with a target of 280.
Any chance of this being a close finish hinged on Mohammad Shahzad, Afghanistan’s wicketkeeper batsman. But their chase hit a road block as soon as he was snuffed out for a duck by Mashrafe Mortaza, in the third over. A cautious 47-run second-wicket stand between Nowroz Mangal and Rahmat Shah helped them put up a brief fight before Bangladesh’s experience and superiority prevailed.
Afghanistan did not help their cause by fielding in a sloppy manner. Things started badly when Asghar Stanikzai, the captain, put down a sitter to reprieve Tamim on 1. Overthrows, misfields and run-out opportunities were a regular feature thereon as Tamim and Sabbir dug in to build the innings after the early loss of Soumya Sarkar.
Tamim started the counter-attack when he hit medium pacer Mirwais Ashraf for three boundaries in the eighth over. Sabbir, initially slow to begin with, perhaps because he was batting at No. 3 for the first time in ODIs, shifted gears when he imperiously pulled Dawlat Zadran for six over deep square leg. Tamim, throughout his innings, kept hitting the rank bad balls to the boundary to push Afghanistan on the defensive until Sabbir’s ungainly heave broke the century stand.
Tamim carried on after the wicket and brought up his century but exhaustion and cramps seemed to get the better of him in the 39th over, when he holed out to long-off. Bangladesh were 215 for 3 with 10 overs left, but imploded quite sensationally. They added just 24 between the 41st and 45th overs to further add to the pressure. Fortunately they found a finisher in Mahmudullah, whose polished unbeaten 32, gave Bangladesh the lift they were looking for. That Bangladesh were made to struggle in the end overs was largely due to Rashid Khan, the legspinner, who finished with 2 for 39.
With momentum on their side, Mashrafe gave Shahzad a good workover and scythed through the batsman’s forward prod off the first ball of his second over. Bangladesh suffered a scare the next ball, however, as slipped in his delivery stride and fell on his ankle.
Mangal, solid in defense and fluid in his stroke play, sparkled briefly before being consumed by Mosharraf’s guile when he was lbw trying to sweep a fuller delivery. The left-arm spinner followed it up with Hashmatullah Shahidi’s wicket in the same over after the left-hander top edged a sweep to Tamim at short fine leg. Afghanistan slipped to 55 for 4 in the 17th over when Shakib threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end to send back Stanikzai.
With little pressure on the bowling side, Mashrafe introduced Taskin Ahmed into the attack, and he responded. Bowling with genuine pace, he kept the batsmen on their toes with a few bouncers that softened up Shenwari, who was caught down the leg side while attempting a pull. At 88 for 6, the chase was all but over. Nabi became Mosharraf’s third wicket when he chipped a simple return catch.
Najibullah Zadran then struck four sixes in his 19-ball 26 to briefly delay the inevitable. The match was sealed with Shafiul Islam’s dismissal of Dawlat to complete the capitulation. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)