Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan (AFP Photo)

Afghanistan entered the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup 2018 after wrapping up yet another dominating win as they crushed Bangladesh by 136 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Chasing 256, Bangladesh succumbed to Afghanistan spinners to be bowled out for 119 in 42.1 overs. Only Shakib Al Hasan looked equipped to deal with the threat posed by Afghan attack that had crushed six-time Asian champions Sri Lanka by 91 runs earlier in the tournament.

Birthday boy Rashid Khan was at the forefront of Afghanistan’s dominating show. He first turned their fortunes around with a brazen half-century to push them to a competitive target. And then starred with the ball, with figures of 2/13 from nine overs which had three maidens. A live-wire on the field, he effected a run-out of his own bowling as well to complete an all-round performance.

Bangladesh, who rang in three changes for this inconsequential contest, looked a far cry from the team that had beaten Sri Lanka by 137 runs in the tournament opener. Not once during the night they looked in the hunt. Legspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and pacer Aftab Alam got rid of Bangladesh openers inside five overs.

A brief resurrection ensued – Shakib adding 22 runs with Mominul Haque (9) before Gulbadin Naib struck in his consecutive overs to reduce them to 43/4.

Shakib then found a willing partner in Mahmudullah as together they began picking the pieces together. They had added 36 runs when Rashid Khan began his magic with the ball and trapped Shakib lbw on 32. Mahmudullah also fell to his brilliance – cleaned up on 27 and that, for a short period, made Rashid the leading wicket-taker in ODIs for Afghanistan. Mohammed Nabi, the erstwhile leader, drew level, when he removed Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza for an 11-ball duck. Both the spinners are now level at 112.

Debutant Abu Hider was run out on 1 by Rashid while Rubel Hossain (0) became Mujeeb’s second victim as Afghanistan recorded another big win.

Before unleashing themselves with the ball, Rashid and Naib plundered 97 runs in the final 10 overs as Afghanistan posted a strong total. Rashid scored an unbeaten 57 off 32 in an unbroken partnership of 95 runs with Naib who scored 42 not out.

Regular strikes from Shakib had kept Bangladesh’s hopes of keeping Afghanistan to a low total after Asghar Afghan opted to bat. When Shakib dismissed Mohammed Nabi lbw on 10, his fourth scalp of the innings, Afghanistan had been reduced to 160/7. However, the dismissal brought in Rashid and in his company, Naib shifted gears with consecutive boundaries off Abu Hider.

Rubel Hossain and captain Mashrafe Mortaza were each creamed for 17 runs while, in the final over, Rashid clubbed four fours – the third of which took him to his third ODI fifty – as Mortaza finished with expensive figures of 0/67 from his eight overs.

The total looked a distant possibility for the majority of Afghanistan innings. Abu Hider had a memorable start to his ODI career as he struck twice in his first two overs, removing Ihsanullah Janat (8) and Rahmat Shah (10) cheaply.

Mohammad Shahzad and Hashmatullah Shahidi then began the recovery. While Shahzad fell to Shakib on 37, Shahidi continued his good form to score his third ODI fifty. The duo added 51 runs for the third wicket to soften the early blows.

Two more strikes from Shakib, who finished with 4/42, reduced Afghanistan to 139/5 and the quick departures of Shahidi (58) and Nabi (10) dampened their hopes of a competitive total.

But Rashid, who turns 20 today, was in destructive mood and made sure Afghanistan finished on a high – first with the bat and then with the ball too.

Afghanistan next face Pakistan while Bangladesh will face India. Both the matches are scheduled for Friday.

Brief Scores: Afghanistan 255/7 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 58, Rashid Khan 57*; Shakib Al Hasan 4/42) beat Bangladesh 119 (Shakib Al Hasan 32; Rashid Khan 2/13, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/22) by 136 runs