Taskin Ahmed and Shakib Al Hasan lead Bangladesh to a 2-0 series victory
With a six-wicket victory in the second game in Sylhet, which was hampered by rain, Bangladesh played some wonderful T20I cricket to enable them win their first bilateral T20I series against Afghanistan.
As a result of Taskin Ahmed‘s excellent new-ball bowling and Litton Das and Afif Hossain’s quick-fire batting powerplay performance, Bangladesh eventually achieved the amended target of 119 runs from 17 overs with five balls remaining.
Bangladesh had previously tied a two-match series at home last year and lost a T20I series to Afghanistan in Dehradun in 2018. They have won all three bilateral series they have played in the shortest format this year, defeating England 3-0 and Ireland 2-1 in March. In addition to clearing up this record, they have also preserved their perfect 2023 in T20Is. They got off to a roaring start today thanks to Taskin.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored six points by top-edging a short ball from Taskin Ahmed in the opening over, but Taskin worked him again with a short ball the very next pitch and this time accepted the skier’s offer himself.
Taskin became the third player from Bangladesh to reach this milestone after Mustafizur Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan thanks to the victory, which was his 50th in T20Is. Following Taskin had him caught behind for four, Gurbaz’s opening partner Hazratullah Zazai followed him in the third over following an unsuccessful attempt to guide past deep third.
The game was soon reduced to 17 overs per side due to rain, which prompted a lengthy break of 98 minutes. Afghanistan had batted for 7.2 overs at that point and had less than 10 overs to achieve a respectable total.
However, Mohammad Nabi, who scored fifty in the first T20I, appeared tense at the wicket and struggled to get going. He was fortunate to be dropped twice in the ninth over, when he was on 15, by Shakib at cover and wicketkeeper Litton. It was bowler Nasum Ahmed who had bad luck.
Nabi was taken out by Mustafizur in the following over for 16, after which Shakib bowled Najibullah Zadran for five runs and Ibrahim Zadran was caught at long-on for 22.
Afghan all-rounders Azmatullah Omarzai and Karim Janat put on a 42-run sixth-wicket stand, scoring three fours and two sixes, and it appeared as though they may give Afghanistan the boost they so desperately needed, but the Bangladesh spinners brilliantly fought back.
In the final three overs, they only allowed one boundary (a six), while also dismissing both all-rounders (Omarzai was bowled by Mustafizur and Janat by Taskin).
In the first over of their 119-run effort, Litton welcomed Fazalhaq Farooqi with a straight drive and a swivel pull. In the white-ball forms, Farooqi has typically controlled powerplays, so this surge against him was unusual.
Wafadar Momand, who was making his debut, was immediately attacked by Litton, who struck him for three consecutive fours in the following over. He began with a beautiful square cut, then added an outside edge over the slips and a breathtaking backfoot punch through the covers. In a T20I cricket match, Momand’s first delivery resulted in 19 runs.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman also received heavy treatment from Litton, who clipped his first delivery for four runs over fine-leg before Afif lofted him for six runs over mid-off in his following over. As Bangladesh advanced quickly, reaching 61 for no loss in seven overs, they made history by becoming the first opening partnership from Bangladesh to add 50 runs in a T20I match against Afghanistan.
Omarzai then made one run with a one-run effort after a tight over from Rashid Khan. Litton completed five dots in the eighth over before taking the final ball. Mujeeb then claimed the first ball of the ninth over after Rashid expertly caught him in the covers. Two balls later, Afif holed out to deep midwicket to follow Litton.
When the next over came along, Omarzai yorked Najmul Hossain Shanto. Bangladesh had three wickets for nine runs in two overs at that time, needing just 43 runs from 36 balls. In the last five overs, Bangladesh suddenly needed eight runs per over from Towhid Hridoy and Shakib, who were the new batters. However, they needed some time to get their eyes in the game.
The next over, the in-form Hridoy struck Mujeeb for a four over cover. After a break of 30 balls and the seventh over, Bangladesh finally scored a boundary. With Shakib edging Mujeeb for a four, the over was broken by 12 runs. After Shakib hit Rashid for a six in the following over, only one run and one ball remained.
Bangladesh needed 12 out of 16 as Hridoy slammed Omarzai for a first six over deep square. The following ball, however, he threw away, toe-ending a catch to mid-off for 19. No further harm was done thanks to Shakib and Shamim Hossain, with Shamim pulling Wafadar for four on the first ball of the last over to score the winning runs.