Skipper Shakib Al Hasan led from the front and remained unbeaten on a match-winning 70 as Bangladesh finally managed to break the Afghanistan hoodoo, registering a four-wicket win in the tri-nation T20I series in Chattogram yesterday.
Although it was a dead rubber at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, ahead of the final between the same sides, Bangladesh will surely gain plenty of confidence despite a not-so-convincing win after four consecutive T20I losses to Afghanistan.
Shakib smashed eight fours and a six during his 45-ball stay while Mosaddek Hossain provided valuable support, remaining unbeaten for a 12-ball 19, as the hosts reached the target with an over to spare.
Requiring 27 from the Rashid Khan for a four and a six in the 18th over, which Mosaddek started with a four of his own. That over saw 18 runs being tacked onto the scoreboard, which made all the difference in the end.
It was not an ideal start for the Tigers as they came in to chase, with both openers Liton Das and Nazmul Hossain departing cheaply to leave Bangladesh struggling on 12 for two inside four overs.
Liton departed for four after he handed a simple catch to Asghar Afghan while attempting to clear the offside off the bowling of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Nazjmul, who failed in his T20I debut against Zimbabwe in the previous game, once again disappointed. The left-hander added just five runs before departing, hanging a simple catch while misreading a slower delivery from pacer Naveen ul Haque.
Bangladesh’s two experienced cricketers, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib, steadied the ship with a 58-run third-wicket stand. But despite being given a lifeline through a dropped catch when he was on 14, Mushfiqur departed as he went after Karim Janat for a second six in the same over. He was caught and walked back for a 25-ball 26.
Mahmudullah and Sabbir Rahman also failed and things began to look difficult for the Tigers. Shakib, who reached his fifty at the other end, was the biggest hope for the hosts.
The game was also delayed for 12 minutes in the 13th over as a technical problem led to one of the floodlights failing to function properly.
Earlier, Bangladesh made just one change by bringing in Sabbir Rahman to replace injured leg-spinner Aminul Islam, who required three stitches to his left hand after sustaining an injury during his impressive debut against Zimbabwe in the previous game.
The hosts made a good start after electing to field as seamers Shafiul and Saifuddin maintained a tight line and length initially, keeping Afghanistan openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Hazratullah Zazai quiet.
The Tigers made a good start after electing to field as seamers Shafiul and Saifuddin bowled in tight line and length initially that kept the Afghanistan openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Hazratullah Zazai quiet.
The hosts were almost rewarded for that in the second over when Gurbaz, on just three runs, top-edged a short delivery from Shafiul and popped a regulation catch to Mahmudullah, who incredibly dropped the dolly.
The Afghan openers then grabbed the opportunity and started to punish the Bangladesh bowlers and were eventually cruising on 75 without loss after nine overs before Shakib introduced Afif Hossain into the attack for the first time in the series.
The 19-year-old provided the breakthrough with his off-spin, picking up two wickets in his first over. He removed Zazai for a team-high 35-ball 47 and then removed Asghar Afghan for a duck.
After that, Bangladesh gained momentum and the Afghan middle order collapsed. The visitors could add just 34 runs with their last five wickets, ultimately posting 138 for seven in 20 overs.