Dehradun: Afghanistan lived up to their superior position in the MRF Tyres ICC Men's T20I Team Rankings, trumping Bangladesh for the second game in a row in their three-match Twenty20 International series to clinch it with a game in hand.
After a 45-run win in the first game, they picked up a six-wicket win in the second, and it was again their all-star spin attack that set things up. Bangladesh batted first out of choice, but Rashid Khan (4/12) and Mohammad Nabi (2/19) led the way, while Mujeeb Ur Rahman was miserly as ever with returns of 0/15, as Bangladesh stopped at 134/8.
That was slightly below par, but it was game on when the penultimate over of Afghanistan's chase began, following Samiullah Shenwari's fall for a 41-ball 49, with 20 needed off 12. But 4-6-0-4-6 from Nabi sealed the deal with lots to spare.
Asghar Stanikzai, the Afghan captain, was understandably pleased, and said playing in another of their adopted 'home' grounds, this one in India's Dehradun, was like "playing in Kabul"."We knew our strengths, that's why I was confident," he added. "Mujeeb, Nabi and Rashid showed what they are capable of. On this surface, where there was turn, they did very well."
Khan was Player of the Match, like in the first fixture when he returned 3/13. "This is what the team expects (from me)," said the star leg-spinner. "This is the plan given to me, to bowl in the middle and end overs. I was mentally ready, and wanted to bowl in the good-length areas.
"It was crucial, the wickets of Shakib (Al Hasan), Tamim (Iqbal), Mosaddek (Hossain)
and Soumya (Sarkar). They are key players. We know how good they are, so we wanted
to keep things simple and focus on the basics."
On the night of Tuesday, Iqbal was the lone Bangladesh batsman to score big, but his 43 took 48 balls. Mushfiqur Rahim (22) and Abu Hider (21 not out) were the only other batsmen to cross 20, but the innings moved at a run rate of 6.7, not fast enough for a team looking to stay alive in the series.
"We bowled and fielded well, but were 15-20 short," pointed out Shakib, the Bangladesh
captain."We kept losing wickets after a good start. They kept up the pressure in the middle
overs and we kept on losing wickets. That's where we lost. I thought our seamers executed
well. In this sort of wicket, it's hard to defend 135, but credit to the way we fought out," he
On Khan, who was a teammate at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the recent Indian Premier League 2018, Shakib added, "Rashid bowled really well. They have some world-class spinners, who are doing their job. We have to come up with better plans to handle them and put up better totals with the bat."The third and final match of the series will be played on Thursday at the same venue.(UNI)