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Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari fire Afghanistan to 254/6 against Bangladesh in Asia Cup 2014 tie

Asghar Stanikzai scored 90 not out © AFP
Asghar Stanikzai scored 90 not out © AFP

By Devarchit Varma

Mar 1, 2014

Asghar Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari slammed brilliant half-centuries to lift Afghanistan to a daunting total of 255 against Bangladesh in their Asia Cup 2014 One-Day International (ODI) match, at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah, on Saturday.

After being asked to bat first, Afghanistan made a poor start but recovered well, thanks to a record 164-run stand for the sixth wicket between Stanikzai and Shenwari.

Stanikzai faced 103 balls and clobbered three sixes as well as six boundaries to score 90 not out, which also is his highest score in ODIs. On the other hand, Shenwari smashed 10 boundaries and a six to score 81 off just 69 balls. Their stubborn stand, which has put Bangladesh under tremendous pressure, was finally broken when Shenwari was run out on the penultimate ball of the innings.

The two batsmen put the Bangladeshi bowlers to sword towards the end of the innings as they added as many as 107 runs in the final 10 overs to add more to the hosts’ misery. Their partnership of 164 runs is the fifth highest partnership in ODI history, for the sixth wicket.

Afghanistan made a scratchy start as they lost their dashing opener Mohammad Shahzad early in the innings. The right-handed batsman was trapped in front of the wickets for two off eight balls by Bangladesh seamer Rubel Hossain in the third over of the match.

Bangladesh sensed an opportunity to make further inroads, as Mushfiqur Rahim wasted no time in employing his spinners who did an excellent job. Afghanistan batsmen Karim Sadiq and Najibullah Zadran did well to resist Bangladesh’s charge, but their second wicket stand was cut short to only 34 runs when Arafat Sunny, after being hit for a six by Saqid, took his revenge by dismissing him.

Sadiq leaned forward to play the ball towards the midwicket region, but he did not judge the flight properly and the ball took a leading edge. Sunny took an easy catch to provide his side the second breakthrough in the game.

Bangladesh did not have to wait for another wicket for long. In his next over, Sunny cleaned up Najibullah for 21 off 36 balls. The manner in which the left-handed Afghan batsman got out was surprising as he had come down a bit, but could not connect the ball that was straight and angling in.

Nawroz Mangal and Asghar Stanikzai, two of the most experienced Afghanistan batsmen had big task on their hand to rebuild their innings after they were reduced to 43 for three after 14 overs. They did well too – adding runs for the fourth wicket.

Mangal looked comfortable at the crease, while on the other hand, Stanikzai adopted his usual cautious approach of consuming lot of deliveries and not going for big hits. In fact, none of the Afghanistan batsmen is very aggressive, and this showed in their approach in this innings as well. Every batsman looked determined to keep rotating the strike and punish only the loose ones.

However, this approach required Afghan batsmen to be very strong with the running between the wickets. In the 23rd over, Mangal pushed one gently towards the covers and started off for a quick single. But his partner wasn’t in agreement and he sent back Mangal, who failed to make it on time, as a direct hit sent him packing. Afghanistan were reeling at 75 for four after 23 overs.

There was more trouble in store for Afghanistan – in the 27th over Mominul Haque got the opposition captain Mohammad Nabi caught by Nasir Hossain at the first slip. Nabi’s dismissal put Afghanistan in all sorts of trouble.

But Stanikzai was still there. With his cautious approach he began rebuilding Afghanistan innings, joining forces with Samiullah Shenwari. The two batsmen did not allow Bangladesh to make further damages and batted with caution to take their side ahead.

After successfully negating the challenge early on, Stanikzai and Shenwari started opening up and picked up boundaries at regular interval to keep the scoreboard ticking. It was only after the end of the 40th over that these two batsmen opened up, displaying their arsenal of strokes that would have certainly delighted many of the cricket fans.

On the other hand, Bangladesh fielders missed out on couple of chances that would have certainly hurt them. Both Stanikzai and Shenwari were given a lifeline each in the final stages of the innings.

Afghanistan would now be fancying their chances for a win as they would certainly draw inspiration from their impressive bowling effort in the clash against Pakistan.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 254 for 6 in 50 overs (Asghar Stanikzai 90*, Samiullah Shenwari 81; Arafat Sunny 2 for 44) vs Bangladesh

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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)

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