Afghanistan make slow start against Bangladesh

Afghanistan’s Hashmatullah Shahidi watches the ball after playing a shot against Bangladesh. (AFP pic)

SOUTHAMPTON: Afghanistan’s bid for a first win in this year’s World Cup got off to a slow start as they laboured to 79-2 off 21 overs in pursuit of 263 to beat Bangladesh on Monday.

Gulbadin Naib’s minnows were unable to establish any momentum on a slow Southampton pitch, putting them behind the required run-rate approaching the half-way point of their chase.

Rahmat Shah had partnered Gulbadin at the top of the order and the pair put on 49 for the first wicket.

But Shakib Al Hasan’s introduction into the Bangladesh bowling attack brought the breakthrough.

Rahmat carelessly flicked a flatter delivery to Tamim Iqbal at mid-on and departed for 24.

Just 10 runs came from the next five overs and Hashmatullah Shahidi perished when he tried to accelerate, stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off Mosaddek Hossain for 11.

Naib was unbeaten on 35 and Asghar Afghan was yet to score as the pressure mounted.

Victory for Bangladesh would move them into fifth place in the 10-team table.

That would leave them within one point of fourth-placed England, who play Australia on Tuesday, as the race hots up to qualify for the semi-finals via a top-four finish.

Afghanistan became the first team to be eliminated after an agonising 11-run loss against India on Saturday, when Mohammed Shami’s final-over hat-trick denied them a famous upset.

Earlier, Shakib became the leading run scorer in this year’s World Cup so far as his side reached 262-7 after being put into bat.

Shakib’s 51 took him to 476 runs in the tournament, while Mushfiqur top-scored in Bangladesh’s 50 overs with an 87-ball 83.

Aggressive hitting

Liton Das was promoted ahead of Soumya Sarkar to open along with Tamim for Bangladesh, with the pair managing a brisk 23 from the first four overs.

But Liton fell for 16 in the next over after being fooled into a miscued drive by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who finished with impressive figures of 3-39.

That brought Shakib to the crease and he upped the tempo even further with some aggressive hitting that maintained his fine World Cup form.

When Shakib, who has two centuries already in the tournament, pulled Naib to the boundary, it moved him above Australia’s David Warner’s 447 runs as the leading scorer in this year’s event.

Tamim and Shakib put on their fourth successive fifty partnership in one-day internationals.

But having been hit for a boundary the ball before, Mohammad Nabi responded with a flighted turner that bowled Tamim for 36.

Shakib went on to become only the second player to hit six consecutive 40-plus scores in a World Cup.

Not long after that milestone, Shakib brought up his half-century in 66 balls – his fifth score of 50 or more in this tournament – to huge cheers from the Bangladesh fans who made up the majority of the crowd.

Shakib was unable to turn his solid start into another century, however, with Rahman pinning him lbw to leave Bangladesh on 143-3 in the 30th over.

Rahman was in the groove and 18-year-old spinner removed Soumya for three with another teasing delivery.

Mushfiqur tried to turn the tide as he heaved a six to bring up his fifty off 56 balls.