CANBERRA: A three-wicket blitz at the start of their innings knocked the wind out of Afghanistan on their World Cup debut and helped Bangladesh to a 105-run victory with more than seven overs to spare in their Pool A opener in Canberra on Wednesday.
Skipper Mohammad Nabi had warned that nerves might compromise Afghanistan’s bid to cap their remarkable rise to the top table of international cricket with a maiden victory at cricket’s 50-over showpiece, and so it proved.
Their attempt to overhaul the 267 all out that Bangladesh posted never recovered from the loss of Javed Ahmadi, Afsar Zazai and Asghar Stanikzai in 13 balls that left them facing humiliation at 3-3 after the opening three overs.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza (3-20) took two of the wickets to help spur his side to a measure of revenge for the defeat in the only previous meeting between the countries at the Asia Cup last year.
Shakib Al Hasan, who tops the all-rounder world rankings, was missing from that match but played a key role in Wednesday’s victory after Afghanistan had shackled the Bangladeshi batsmen and reduced them to 119 to four in the 30th over.
Teaming up with Mushfiqur Rahim (71) to plunder 114 runs off 93 balls for the fifth wicket, Shakib (63) also became the first Bangladeshi to score 4,000 one-day runs.
Despite spinner Samiullah Shenwari being forced out of the attack by the umpire for following through onto the danger area, four Afghan bowlers took two wickets apiece and they will have been encouraged by bowling Bangladesh out.
That encouragement did not last much beyond the innings break and although Nawroz Mangal (27) and Samiullah Shenwari (42) averted complete humiliation with a fourth wicket partnership of 62, the run chase never looked on.
Shakib’s left-arm spin accounted for Najibullah Zadran (17), who looked unfortunate not escape the lbw decision on appeal as the ball appeared to strike him on the pad outside the line of the off-stump.
After Nabi lashed out at a Mortaza delivery on the following ball and was caught at mid-off for 44, the end was not long coming and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur performed the coup de grace by running out Aftab Alam to end the innings with 162 runs on the board.