Mustafizur Rahman kept his nerve and bowled a sensational last over as Bangladesh defeated Afghanistan by 3 runs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the Tigers started their innings disastrously as they lost Nazmul Hossain Shanto and Mohammad Mithun quickly.
Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim steadied the innings by adding 63 runs for the third wicket, before the former was dismissed by Rashid Khan for 41. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur fell soon after as Bangladesh were left struggling at 87/5.
Mahmudullah and the recalled Imrul Kayes then added a valuable 127 run stand for the sixth wicket as Bangladesh managed to reach a competitive total of 249/7 in their allotted 50 overs.
Aftab Alam was Afghanistan’s best bowler as he claimed three wickets for 54 runs.
Chasing a target of 250, Afghanistan started shakily as they lost Ihsanullah Janat and Rahmat Shah quickly.
The pair of Mohammad Shahzad (53) and Hashmatullah Shahidi put on a crucial stand of 63 runs for the third wicket, before the former was bowled by Mahmudullah for 53 runs.
Shahidi then stitched a 78-run partnership with skipper Asghar Afghan to take his team within striking distance.
Rashid Khan is a very versatile player and had shown his ability with the bat when these two teams had clashed earlier in the tournament. Rashid had made 57 off 32 balls then, but somewhat bizarrely, was held back in this Super Four clash, as the Afghanistan think tank chose to send Shinwari ahead of him. When he came to the crease in the penultimate over, he had little choice but to swing from the ball go, and was undone by the brilliance of Mustafizur Rahman, tamely edging one back to the bowler.
Mohammad Nabi in the end, made a cameo of 38 off 28 balls but failed to take his team within the line.
This was a game Afghanistan could, and should’ve won, but they were left ruing what could’ve been. They’re now out of the tournament, a bit disappointing given how they played in both their Super 4 games.
For Bangladesh, Mashrafe and Mustafizur bagged two wickets each. The Tigers will now play Pakistan in their next match, with the winner progressing to meet India in the final on Friday.