Mustafizur keeps Bangla in hunt

WILY: Mustafizur Rahman bowled a brilliant final over to seal victory for Bangladesh against Afghanistan. AFP

Mustafizur Rahman held his nerve to bowl a fantastic final over as Bangladesh eked out a three-run win over a gutsy Afghanistan to stay afloat in the race for the Asia Cup final.

Afghanistan yet again came close to a victory against a top-Asian team but faltered at the finish line, losing plot in the last 10 overs of the chase during Sunday's match.

They needed eight runs off the final over but experienced paceman Mustafizur conceded only four and also dismissed the dangerous Rashid Khan (5).

Afghanistan looked well in control with Hashmatullah (71) and captain Asghar Afghan (39) going very strong after losing three wickets.

They stitched a 78-run partnership for the fourth wicker but Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza dismissed both to puncture Afghanistan hopes.

Mohammad Nabi (38) and Samiullah Shenwari (23 not out) produced a quick-fire 46-run stand for the sixth wicket but that was not enough as they ended with 246 for seven, while chasing 250.

Mahmudullah (74) made it memorable match for himself. After batting well at crucial juncture, he dismissed Afghanistan opener Mohammad Shahzad (53) and also took a catch of the rival skipper.

Bangladesh now need to beat Pakistan on Wednesday to qualify for the summit clash.

Afghanistan bowlers could not capitalise on a dominant start and allowed Bangladesh to score a competitive 249 for seven with Mahmudullah and Imrul Kayes repairing the innings with fighting half-centuries.

Mahmudullah and Kayes (72 not out), playing his first ODI in almost a year, shared a 128-run stand for the fifth wicket to lift their side from a precarious 87 for five after electing to bat.

Mahmudullah played aggressive after completing his 20th ODI half-century, twice lofting star Afghan spinner Rashid Khan over the ropes.

Rashid was well handled by the two batsmen. He could get only one wicket and gave away 46 runs in his 10 overs. It was key in Bangladesh's revival.

Mahmudullah's knock came off 81 balls with three fours and two sixes while left-hander Kayes consumed 89 balls for his calculative unbeaten knock, which had six shots to the fence.

The partnership broke towards the end of the innings when pacer Aftab Alam had Mahmudullah caught by Rashid.

At the top, only Liton Das could make his presence felt with a 41-run innings whiler Mushfiqur Rahim (33) frittered away a good start by running himself out.

The trio of Aftab Alam, Mujeeb ur Rahamn and Gulbadin Naib had succeeded in straight-jacketing Bangladesh batsmen, keeping them under a tight leash with disciplined line and length.

Alam got the better of Nazmul Hossain (6) while Mohammad Mithun (1) was done in by Mujeeb.

After the top-order was removed, run outs of Shakib ul Hasan (0) and Rahim only added to their woes. 

 

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Mustafizur keeps Bangla in hunt

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