Rashid Khan starred with bat and ball as Afghanistan crushed Bangladesh by 136 runs in their final Group B match of the Asia Cup to take some extra-confidence in the next phase in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Rashid snatched the momentum away from Bangladesh with unbeaten fifty to help Afghanistan post 255-7 before he picked up 2-13 in nine overs to inspire the side bowling out the Tigers for 119 runs in 42.1 overs.
Bangladesh looked to be in control after Sakib al Hasan’s 4-42 restricted Afghanistan to 160-7 in the 41st over before Rashid, who hit 57 off 32 balls, forged an unbroken 95-run stand with Gulbadin Naib.
Naib was unbeaten on 42 off 38 balls as Afghanistan added 43 runs in the last three overs to leave Bangladesh demoralised and give their bowlers a strong total to defend.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza bore the brunt of their onslaught, giving away 36 runs in his last two overs before finishing with 0-67 in eight overs for an economy rate of well excess of eight.
Mashrafee used eight bowlers – the first time for him doing so since the Champions Trophy semi-final against India last year – yet appeared short of a death bowler that cost Bangladesh heavily.
The absence of Mustafizur Rahman, who was rested along with Mushfiqur Rahim, had been missed dearly as Mashrafee himself was forced to take the responsibility of bowling in slog overs, a job he rarely did in the recent past.
Asked to bowl first in the packed Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Bangladesh, however, got off to a positive start as debutant Abu Hider took a wicket off his third ball before his second wicket left Afghanistan rattling at 28-2.
Hider then leaped in the air to take a stunning catch, helping Sakib to dismiss Mohammad Shahzad (37) and pick up his first wicket.
The Bangladesh talisman continued his good work adding three more wickets while Mehedi Hasan and Rubel Hossain maintained the pressure with some tight bowling.
Hashmatullah Shahidi held one end to score 58 off 92 balls, but it was not until the arrival of mercurial Rashid into the crease Afghanistan felt confident in the game.
Rashid hit eight fours and a six and raced to his third ODI fifty off 31 balls and got support from Naib, who was equally aggressive smashing five boundaries.
The late blitz of Rashid and Naib must have made Bangladesh nervous as they nearly lost a wicket off the first ball of their innings after a mix-up between debutant Nazmul Hossain and other opener Liton Das.
They survived owing to a poor throw but the Afghans did not take too much of a time to make an inroad in batting line up as Bangladesh lost four wickets for 43 runs.
Nazmul (seven), Liton (six), Mominul Haque (nine) and Mohammad Mithun (two) all fell cheaply leaving the onus on Sakib and Mahmudullah to bail out the team.
But the leg spin of Rashid was too much for them to handle as the Afghan birthday boy, who turned 20, ended Bangladesh’s resistance by picking up the wickets of the experienced duo.
The game ended as contest after Mahmudullah (27) followed Sakib (32) to the dressing room, which also made thousands of Bangladeshi fans leaving the ground.
Bangladesh will face India in their first Super 4 match in Dubai today.
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