Mushfiqur, Shakib haul Bangladesh to 267
18 February 2015, Nirapad News: On their World Cup debut, Afghanistan became the first side in this edition to restrict a Test team to under 300 bowling first. Bangladesh made 267 thanks only to the counterattack by Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim when their innings was teetering on the edge.
Afghanistan started impressively, justifying their pace bowlers’ growing reputation. Their bowling fell away somewhat from the 31st over on, but their batsmen can hope to upend Bangladesh, who only added 73 to their score in the last ten overs. The pitch could get slower as the evening wears on, making it easier for batting.
Shakib and Mushfiqur added 114 runs in 15.3 overs, at 7.35 runs per over. When they came together at the start of the 30th over, Bangladesh were four down and were going nowhere, their run-rate a sluggish 4.10. Shakib made 63 off 51 balls with six fours and a pulled six over backward square leg, a rescue effort if there ever was one from the No. 1 all rounder in the world.
Sabbir Rahman, preferred ahead of Nasir Hossain at No 7, hardly contributed as Bangladesh added just eight runs in 2.1 overs after Shakib’s dismissal in the 45th over. Mushfiqur fell soon after for 71 off 56, with six fours and a six, but after Shakib’s dismissal a lack of strike frustrated him. Bangladesh’s batting-order reshuffle went as far as shunting Mominul Haque down to No 9, a place for a slogger not a solid top-order batsman but a spate of boundaries from captain Mashrafe Mortaza in the last three overs gave them something to bowl at.
Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran bowled within themselves in the first six overs but it was enough to keep Anamul Haque and Tamim Iqbal quiet. The pair batted gingerly, barely showing any intent in near-perfect batting conditions.
Hassan bowled Afghanistan’s first ball in the World Cup, a wide, but thereafter committed both openers to playing, moving the ball around ever so slightly from a full length. Tamim’s time in the middle was eventful, as he latched on to over pitched balls to drive through the covers twice while also surviving a caught-behind appeal when replays showed he had nicked Hassan.
Aftab Alam and Mirwais Ashraf seemed like innocuous first and second-change bowlers, given how Hassan and Shapoor were charging in. Tamim, however, was looking jittery, looking for improbable singles and getting his calls wrong on a number of occasions. First signs of impatience came in the 13th over when he charged and missed Ashraf and was almost run-out next ball.
In the medium-pacer’s next over, he poked at one angling across and Afsar Zazai took a smart catch, diving to his left. Ashraf then trapped Anamul with a brute of an in-ducker to dismiss him for 29 off 55 balls. Anamul wasted Bangladesh’s only review too.
Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar had to restart the innings and batted conservatively till the 24th over. But the scoring rate was also down to Ashraf, who hardly gave them anything to hit. Finally, in his ninth over, Soumya struck him for a six over long-on and tucked one through fine-leg to spoil his figures.
Afghanistan then brought back Shapoor, and the left-armer struck immediately, trapping Soumya leg-before for 28 before dismissing Mahmudullah at the start of the 30th over. This brought together Shakib and Mushfiqur, Bangladesh’s best batting pair.
Having bowled very well for the first 29.1 overs of the Bangladesh innings, Afghanistan gave away too many four balls during the Shakib-Mushfiqur partnership. They seemed to tire in the field as well, conceding overthrows and letting balls go through their legs. Afghanistan also failed to review an appeal in the 41st over, when Aftab had an lbw appeal turned down. Replays suggested the ball was going on to hit the stumps, and had hit Mushfiqur’s front pad before his bat.
Afghanistan were also hampered by the fact that their leg spinner Samiullah Shenwari was forced out of the attack after transgressing on the danger area for a second time from the same end, in only his second over.