LAHORE - Bangladesh secured a place in the Super Fours of the Asia Cup 2023 by defeating Afghanistan with an 89-run margin here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.
The dynamic duo of Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Najmul Hossain Shanto notched up centuries, while Bangladesh’s pace bowlers took center stage by claiming eight crucial wickets. Miraz showcased his brilliance with a splendid 112 off 119 balls, marking his highest ODI score, while Shanto contributed a vital 104 off 105 balls, propelling Bangladesh to a formidable total of 334-5. This exceptional partnership of 194 runs for the third wicket dismantled Afghanistan’s hopes on a flat Gaddafi Stadium pitch.
The Bangladeshi bowlers were equally relentless in their pursuit of victory. Taskin Ahmed spearheaded the attack with figures of 4-44, complemented by Shoriful Islam’s 3-36 and Hasan Mahmud’s 1-61. Their collective effort restricted Afghanistan to 245 runs in 44.3 overs, sealing the victory for Bangladesh.
Afghanistan’s run chase got off to a rocky start when Shoriful Islam dismissed the dangerous Rahmanullah Gurbaz for just one run in the second over. Ibrahim Zadran, who top-scored with 75, attempted to anchor the innings, forming partnerships of 78 for the second wicket with Rahmat Shah (33) and 52 for the third wicket with Hashmatullah Shahidi (51). However, Afghanistan struggled to maintain momentum.
Hasan Mahmud turned the tide in Bangladesh’s favour with a remarkable diving catch by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim to dismiss Ibrahim Zadran. Despite the efforts of Shahidi and Najibullah Zadran (17), Afghanistan’s batting line-up crumbled in quick succession. With 123 runs needed off the final 10 overs, Rashid Khan’s 15-ball 24 proved too little, too late.
With this win, Bangladesh keep their hopes alive for a spot in the Super Four stage, setting up a crucial clash between Afghanistan and title holders Sri Lanka, who earlier defeated Bangladesh in their initial encounter. The match will take place on Tuesday (September 5) to determine the team that advances to the next round. In Group A, Pakistan have already secured a place in the Super Fours by beating Nepal in their first match, and their game against India ended in a no result due to rain in Pallekele on Saturday.
The iconic Gaddafi Stadium has perennially been a beacon of sold-out stands, welcoming fervent crowds for international series, marquee events, and thrilling PSL matches. However, during the inaugural Asia Cup 2023 clash, held even on Sunday, an unusual sight unfolded – swathes of empty seats dotted the stadium’s expanse. Despite an eager army of cricket enthusiasts clamoring for the passes, many were left disappointed, unable to partake in the live action. This void in attendance also reflects on the PCB, which fell short of achieving a capacity crowd during this pivotal moment in Asian cricketing history.