All-rounder Mehidy Hasan Miraz scored a half-century and took three wickets as Bangladesh got their Cricket World Cup campaign off to a solid start with a six-wicket victory over Afghanistan in Dharamsala on Saturday.
Having won the toss and elected to field, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan put his side in the driving seat by claiming three key wickets, while Mehidy (3-25) mopped up the tail. Rahmanullah Gurbaz top-scored for Afghanistan with 47.
Mehidy then played a significant part in Bangladesh’s reply with 57 off 73 balls as the 2015 quarter-finalists chased down their target of 157 in 34.4 overs.
“I was a little bit cautious in my mind early on while bowling but the captain told me to bowl at the right areas and told me to be consistent and that gave me confidence,” Player of the Match Mehidy said.
“I always play at number eight so it was a great opportunity to bat in the top order. I always have the hunger, so definitely it’s a great moment for me to perform.”
Bangladesh’s chase got off to a rocky start, with both openers departing early to leave them on 27-2. Mehidy’s arrival steadied the ship, but the 25-year-old benefited from a touch of fortune when he was dropped by Najibullah Zadran on 16 runs.
Mehidy and Najmul Hossain Shanto (59 not out) combined for 97, and though Rahmat Shah pulled off a spectacular one-handed catch to end Mehidy’s knock, the damage was done as Bangladesh eased to victory.
Earlier on Saturday, Afghanistan had a good start as Gurbaz put up fleeting stands with Ibrahim Zadran (22) and Rahmat (18), but Shakib tempted both Ibrahim and Rahmat into risky shots and a couple of wayward top edges ended the partnerships just as they began to look dangerous.
Despite losing two wickets, Afghanistan were in a strong position at 112/2 after 24 overs, but their hopes of building on that platform suffered a devastating blow as Hashmatullah Shahidi and Gurbaz were dismissed in quick succession.
That sparked a middle order collapse and Afghanistan lost their remaining six wickets for just 44 more runs to end on 156.
Afghanistan suffered from some poor shot selection leading to the loss of wickets in situations where they might otherwise have posted a competitive total.
Shakib said: “I am happy to contribute with my bowling, as I said all our five bowlers chipped in, they contributed, spinners played a bigger role but it’s a long tournament, I am sure fast bowlers will contribute more.”
“Mehidy, Shanto… these are our in-form players. They are always confident and want to do well for the team.”
The match was an important one for both sides as they are the two lowest-ranked teams in the tournament after the Netherlands. Bangladesh will be glad to have emerged with the victory and two crucial points.
Bangladesh next face holders England in Dharamsala on Tuesday, while Afghanistan, looking for their first World Cup win since 2015, take on hosts India in New Delhi a day later.
- World Cup 2023
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