Tigers beat Afghanistan by 89 runs

Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Najmul Hossain Shanto hit centuries as Bangladesh cruised to an 89-run victory against Afghanistan at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan to keep their Asia Cup hopes alive.

The big margin ensured Bangladesh’s net run rate leapfrogged Sri Lanka’s, giving them a massive hope of moving to Super 4 regardless of the result between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Coming as a makeshift opener in ‘do or die’ clash for Bangladesh, Miraz hit his career-best 112 and Shanto, fresh from his 89, struck 104, guiding the side to a daunting 334-5, their third highest total in ODI history.

New ball bowlers Tasking Ahmed (4-44) and Shoriful Islam (3-36) complemented their job, sharing seven wickets as Bangladesh bowled Afghanistan out for 245 in 44.3 overs.

Miraz and Shanto’s 194-run partnership, second highest for Bangladesh in third wicket, was key in the side’s crucial victory following their five-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in the opening game.

The partnership was only broken after Miraz got retired hurt after a brilliant 119 ball-innings that laced with seven fours and three sixes.
They built the partnership to set the tune at a moment when Bangladesh were reduced to 63-2 in 11th over in a docile pitch.

Naim Sheikh got a decent start after captain Shakib Al Hasan chose to bat first but failed to read a googly of Mujeeb Ur Rahman to be out for 28.
Towhid Hridoy, promoted to No.3, was out for his first duck in his career, leaving the onus on Miraz and Shanto, who responded brilliantly.

Their strategy to bat with caution and aggression served them well as Bangladesh found the impetus which was missing in the game against Sri Lanka.

Both Shanto and Miraz initially paid a due respect to Rashid Khan in another strategic move.

As they got their eye in, both came out from the shell, unleashing some powerful shots against Afghan bowlers including Rashid Khan as Bangladesh moved towards 300-run mark.

Miraz’s retire apparently was a distraction but Bangladesh did well to combat it. However what hurt Bangladesh was the three run outs dismissals which started with Shanto’s dismissal, shortly after he reached his second century. His 105 ball-104 was studded by nine fours and two sixes.

But the Tigers, led by Shanto and Miraz executed their plan so well against old nemesis Mujeeb and Rashid that both of them end up giving away six plus runs an over, for the first time against Bangladeshi batters.

Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib then gave the finishing touch impeccably. Mushfiqur who looked in superb touch was trapped run out after scoring 25 off 15.

Shakib blasted 18 ball-32 not out as Bangladesh posted a total that proved to be match winning.

In a benign pitch, there was always hope for Afghanistan. But it got a massive setback when Shoriful swung one admirably to trap Rahmanullah Gurbaz leg-before for just 1 in the second over.

A natural attacking batter Gurbaz’s early dismissal made Bangladesh clearly favourite in the game.

Shoriful was not done yet. His opening spell which read 4-1-8-1 was also vital in strangling Afghanistan in this batting paradise
Ibarhim Zadran and Rahmat Shah shared slow-paced 78 off 97 for the second wicket, which further ensured the target would be beyond the reach of Afghanistan.

Zadran however made up later and scored team-high 75 off 74 with 10 fours and one six. But Rahmat’s 33 came off 57 balls.

Skipper Hasmatullah Shahidi (51) was the other one to his a half-century but that mattered little.

Zadran looked threatening after Taskin Ahmed rattled the stump of Rahmat but Hasan Mahmud had him caught by Mushfiqur Rahim.

Bangladesh bowlers them made regular inroads, ensuring Afghanistan would fall flat.

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