Gulbadin Naib won the won the toss and elected to bowl in a sluggish Southampton wicket. It was complete madness given batting will be difficult as the match progressed.
Bangladesh promoted Liton Das in a hope that he could negate the threat of Mujeeb ur-Rahman, considering he averages 58.5 against off spinners since the last World Cup. Liton seemed to be in good nick but eventually fell to Mujeeb after failing to keep a cover drive on the ground, with Hashmatullah Shahidi taking a sharp catch at short cover.
Liton was followed by Shakib Al-Hasan who is having a fantastic World Cup after having amassed a total of 425 runs in 5 innings before this match. Shakib and his partner Tamim Iqbal started the rebuilding phase. They kept on milking ones and twos and added 57 for the second wicket. However, in the 17th over Tamim lost his concentration and was castled by Mohammad Nabi for 36.
In the middle were Bangladesh’s core of batting. The duo of Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim who already put up a record breaking 142-run partnership in their opening game against South Africa, started circumspectly against the spin threat. In the 18th over Shakib was trapped in front by Rashid Khan just to find the ball missing the stumps; a huge moment in the game. In this World Cup this is the second occasion when Bangladesh didn’t reach 100 inside 20 overs.
The spin trio tightened up things between overs 21-30 and Bangladesh could accumulate 48 runs. Mujeeb was unplayable with his different variations. Shakib yet slowly but steadily reached another 50, his third in the World Cups. Both added 61 for the 3rd wicket before Shakib couldn’t read a carrom ball from Mujeeb and was found wanting in -front of the wicket. Incoming batsmen Soumya Sarkar too fell in Mujeeb’s trap leaving Bangladesh in spot of bother.
The form of Rashid Khan though will be a headache for Afghanistan management. Rashid after giving away 19 in his first five overs, conceded 31 in his next five and didn’t pick a single wicket in his spell. In this World Cup he has just picked 4 wickets in 6 innings and that sums up his story so far.
The pressure was on from the other end with Mujeeb and Nabi not giving any freebies and kept the batsmen in a tight leash. The former ended with match figures of 3 for 39.
The experience of Mushfiqur and Mahmadullah kept the momentum going. Once MS Dhoni said, “It’s important to build good partnerships rather than score centuries, once you have the centuries you eventually get the centuries” Bangladesh had 4 of them therefore they never were out of the game.
Mushfiqur made a classy 83. His innings was a mixture of composure and aggression; milking ones and two’ to start his innings and then flourished when the pacers operated. He ensure that Bangladesh was on target for atleast 250.
Despite the loss of Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur late on in the innings, Mosaddek Hossain played a delectable cameo of 34* to take the Tigers past 260. Bangladeshi batsmen played out the spin threat and exposed the Afghanistan pacers who have conceded over 9.5 RPO at the death.
Afghanistan has never chased above 250 against CWC 2019 opposition and 263 was certainly not going to be a cakewalk and given that Afghanistan batsmen play outdated cricket which further adds insult to injury. None of the Afghan batsmen have a strike rate above 80 in the current batting lineup.
Early on, the opening pair of Gulbadin Naib and Rahmat Shah added a steady 49 for the 1st wicket. However the good start was negated after Shah tried to take on Shakib; eventually lofting a pull short to Tamim.
The incoming batsmen didn’t show any intent to up the scoring rate. Shakib ran through the top order with ease after having taken Gulbadin Naib, Asghar Afghan, and Mohammad Nabi; Gulbadin Naib after having played 75 balls for his 47 handed a cover drive to short mid-wicket, Nabi being castled by a ripper and Asghar Afghan mistiming a slog sweep to Sabbir Rahman at deep square leg.
Part timer Mosaddek joined the party removing Shahidi with a beauty that went away from the batsmen and enticed him to play a cover drive just to find Mushfiqur behind the stumps.
The match was perfectly scripted for Shakib to come and give the final touches. Shakib became the second all-rounder after Yuvraj Singh to take 5 wickets and score 50 in World Cups. Although Shamiullah Shinwari played some cracking shots to the boundary yet his valiant 49 went in vain.