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Asia Cup

Win against Bangladesh ‘very important’ – Asghar Afghan

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Rashid Khan’s superb all-round performance helped Afghanistan stun Bangladesh by 136 runs in their Asia Cup 2018 Group B game in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, September 20.

Asghar Afghan, the winning skipper, was pleased with the performance dished out by his team, especially the impetus provided by Gulbadin Naib and Khan towards the end of the Afghanistan innings (95 runs in 9.1 overs). Naib scored 42* in 38 balls and Khan 57* in 32 balls.

“It was a very important game for us. We gave two top-order wickets very easily [Ihsanullah and Rahmat Shah] and even our middle-order was poor. We weren’t finishing well in the last few matches but Rashid and Naib in the last seven-eight overs finished very well today,” said Afghan after the game.

Afghanistan put up a disciplined and efficient bowling effort to bundle Sri Lanka out for just 119 in their pursuit of the 256-run target. It was a combined attack by the Afghan bowlers, where six bowlers clinched at least a wicket, but none picked up more than two.

“If we put 230-plus runs on the board it will be difficult for the opposition team as we have good fielding and extremely good bowling,” said the captain.

“The way we fielded was amazing. We have been working hard on our fielding as it can win the matches for you. It is all about luck in batting and bowling, but fielding is one thing that is totally in our hands and we wanted to get better.”

Khan, who also returned 2-13 with the ball, celebrated his 20th birthday on the day. It was a memorable occasion for the youngster, who was declared the Player of the Match.

“It was a special day for me and I am really happy as I contributed in batting, bowling and fielding – we have worked hard for this and we want to continue this form,” said an elated Khan.

The leg-spinner, who was introduced in the 22nd over of the Bangladesh innings, explained the thought process behind the approach: “I come late to bowl because I can bowl dot balls and put the pressure on the batsmen. I think the wicket changes behaviour here every match so we look to stay positive in our approach.”

Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, was quick to admit that his team was outplayed through most of the game. However, the 34-year-old is now focused on the next assignment, where Bangladesh take on India in less than 24 hours after the loss against Afghanistan.

“I think Afghanistan outplayed us from the 40th over in the first innings [Naib and Khan got together in the 41st over]. Our batting was not up to the mark and the bowling in last 10 overs was poor,” he said.

“We have to be fresh for tomorrow’s big match [against India]. It is hard to recover from the heat and back-to-back matches; hopefully, we will come up with something better tomorrow and play hard. Tamim [Iqbal, who is carrying an injury] is going back home. Mushy [Mushfiqur Rahim] had a good rest, Mustafizur [Rahman] is coming back from an injury as well, so they will play tomorrow since it is a game of consequence.”

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