Bangladesh’s hard-fought three-match series against Afghanistan ended in a rather anti-climax fashion as the Tigers crushed the visitors by 141 runs in the third one-day international to win it 2-1 at Mirpur on Saturday.
The thumping win ensured Bangladesh got their sixth consecutive series victory, a feat rarely achieved by an international side, while they also recorded their 100th victory in one-day internationals in style.
It also kept them firmly in the seventh place of ICC ranking, something that was in danger before this contest. Bangladesh would lose four rating points if they had lost, which would inevitably take them behind West Indies in rankings.
With plenty to play for in the third match, Bangladesh needed someone to put up his hand and give them a command and Tamim Iqbal did exactly the same with a brilliant century.
Tamim hit 118 in as many balls to help the side post 279-8, a total which proved to be too much for Afghanistan, who unlike the first two matches, could not provide the hosts any contest.
Ever since skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza bowled Mohammad Shahzad for a duck Bangladesh were always in control, making regular breakthroughs to dismiss Afghanistan for 138 runs finally in 33.5 overs.
Left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain justified his late inclusion for Taijul Islam, picking up 3-24 that broke the backbone of Afghanistan’s batting lineup, leaving them without a chance to fight back.
The victory came in relative ease as most other bowlers contributed while Bangladesh also executed run outs giving an indication that they finally got it right in the fielding as well.
Things, however, could have been much better, if Bangladesh had batted up to their potential, especially after the platform they got from Tamim and Sabbir Rahman, the new one-down batsman who provided the left-hander very good support.
Batting at number three for the first time in ODI, Sabbir struck his career best 65 off 79 balls but most importantly put 140 runs for the third wicket that apparently created the difference between the two teams.
Tamim made Afghanistan pay dearly after their skipper Asghar Stanikzai dropped him for just one as he completed his seventh ODI century – the highest by any Bangladeshi - off 110 balls with 10 fours.
He brought back his usual aggression once he reached the three-figure mark, hitting occasional leg-spinner Rahmat Shah for a four and two sixes off successive balls.
Mohammad Nabi ended his onslaught but Bangladesh still looked on course to well excess of 300 runs but a dramatic collapse, something that has typified their batting throughout the series, meant they lost their way again.
Sakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim were unable to provide any late impetus and new recruit Mosaddek Hossain also could not play any extra-ordinary innings this time after making an impressive debut in the previous match.
The Tigers needed some late blows from Mahmudullah, who surprisingly came at number six, for giving their innings a competitive look with an unbeaten 32 from 22 balls.
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