Nabi 84* and Mujeeb four-wicket haul lead Afghanistan to record-breaking win

Ban v Afg, 3rd match, T20I tri-series, report

Afghanistan registered a twelfth consecutive T20I victory, a record in men’s cricket, as they beat Bangladesh by 25 runs.

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Having chosen to bat first, the Afghanistan innings got off to the worst possible start when Rahmanullah was bowled by the first ball of the match, an absolute pearler from Mohammad Saifuddin which swung and nipped away before lifting off stump out of the ground. Things got even better for the hosts, as Shakib Al Hasan got Hazratullah Zazai caught from a top-edged slog. When first Najeeb Tarakai and then Najibullah Zadran were caught in the deep, Afghanistan found themselves 40/4 and in danger of falling well short of a competitive total.

Stalwarts Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Afghan had other ideas though, and they combined for a 79-run partnership in just over 10 overs to set the stage for Nabi’s fireworks. Saifuddin was the man to break the partnership, a cutter leading Afghan to sky a catch to long-on, and he quickly claimed his fourth when Gulbadin Naib was bowled without scoring.

But when Soumya Sarkar came on to bowl the 18th, Shakib quickly regretted the bowling change, as Nabi launched two sixes and two fours from the over which went for 22 runs. Saifuddin stayed on to bowl the 19th in search of a 5-for but fared little better as again Nabi launched two maximums to make a mess of his figures, though he still finished with a T20I-best figure of 4/33. Nabi finished the innings with 84* from 54 balls as he led his side to an imposing total of 164/6.

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Mujeeb’s 4/15 ensured Bangladesh’s chase never got going

The Bangladesh innings got off to a similarly terrible start as Liton Das offered a tame catch to cover from Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s second ball before Mushfiqur Rahim was bowled attempting to scoop Farid Malik. Shakib and then Soumya were also dismissed by Mujeeb, caught at mid-on and lbw respectively, leaving Bangladesh on 32/4 at the end of the fifth over.

Mahmudullah led something of a fight back and was ably supported by Sabbir Rahman, who continued batting after receiving a nasty blow to the chin when trying to scoop Karim Janat. But when Gulbadin had the former caught in the deep for 44, the fight left the innings. Mujeeb returned to take the wicket of Sabbir, finishing with 4/15 to better his previous best T20 figures by a run. The innings faded until the final over when, with 40 runs required from it, Mustafizur provided some entertainment, striking a six and two fours before being caught in the deep to leave Bangladesh 139 all out.