World Cup 2023: Bangladesh cruise to victory against Afghanistan

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Bangladesh cruised to a six-wicket victory over Afghanistan to begin their World Cup campaign in Dharamsala.

Afghanistan batted first on a good pitch but squandered the opportunity as they were bowled out in a haze of loose strokes for 156 in 37.2 overs.

The Tigers were 27-2 in reply, but a stand of 97 between Mehidy Hasan and Najmul Hossain Shanto helped them reach their target with 15.2 overs to spare.

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Bangladesh next meet England at the same venue on Tuesday.

Afghanistan, who have now lost 13 consecutive World Cup matches dating back to 2015, play hosts India in Delhi on Wednesday.

Shakib sets Tigers up and running

This promised to be an intriguing affair, a meeting of two of the lower-ranked teams in the tournament, both with hopes of an outside run at the semi-finals.

At the picturesque Dharamsala ground, surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, Bangladesh comfortably overcame their opponents.

Not only did they waste a good start with the bat, Afghanistan also missed chances in the field, leaving plenty for their coach, former England batter Jonathan Trott, to improve on.

From 47-0 and 83-1, Afghanistan would go on to lose their last eight wickets for 44 runs. The initial instigator of their downfall was 36-year-old Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, appearing in his fifth World Cup.

The left-arm spinner bowled an immaculate line for his 3-30, supported by Mehidy, whose fine all-round performance also included 3-25 with his off-breaks.

Left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman claimed the key scalp of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who made 47 before becoming one of a long list of Afghan batters who wasted their wicket.

Defending a modest target, Afghanistan looked to have a chance when Tanzid Hassan was run out by Najibullah Zadran’s direct hit and Liton Das played on off Fazalhaq Farooqi.

But Najibullah put down a simple chance at point when Mehidy had only 16, with the same batter also surviving a poor effort by Mujeeb-ur-Rehman at third man when he had 23.

Shanto could also have been run out on 16, but Rashid Khan was too casual with his attempt to take the bails at the non-striker’s end.

Both reprieved, Mehidy and Shanto compiled the decisive partnership, even in the face of a threatening spell from star leg-spinner Rashid.

Mehidy could not see the job through, falling for 57 to a spectacular one-handed catch by Rahmat Shah, high above his head at mid-off from the pace of Naveen-ul-Haq.

Shakib made a breezy 14 before holing out to deep square leg, leaving Shanto, unbeaten on 59, to hit the winning runs.

On top of the result, of interest to England will be the poor nature of the Dharamsala outfield. The soft, sandy surface might not be the place to risk Ben Stokes’ injured hip. (BBC Sport)

 

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