Afghanistan v Bangladesh, Group A, Canberra February 18, 2015

Bangladesh evade the banana peel

Afghanistan were the bogey team and Bangladesh as the Full Member were expected to defeat them. Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe Mortaza did just that
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Mushfiqur Rahim broke the stumps emphatically to run the last man out and seal Bangladesh's big win over Afghanistan. He and his team-mates then took a victory lap to acknowledge the thousands of Bangladesh supporters who had turned up at Manuka Oval. Those two gestures alone showed how much this match meant.

This was the bogey game for Bangladesh and "let's get it out of the way," had seemed the refrain from the players and support staff in the build-up. They can breathe a little easier now. They were expected to win as the Full Member against the Associate, which had beaten them at home in the only previous ODI between the two teams. Mushfiqur was the captain then, which explains the manner of the run-out. It was the final release. For all the pressure that had been on Bangladesh, as Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi helpfully pointed out in the pre-match press conference.

Bangladesh sides are not used to being under this kind of pressure, let alone the pressure of being favourites in a World Cup match in a country where they hadn't played an ODI since 2008. It showed in their decision to pack the XI with batsmen - Mominul Haque was slotted to come in at No. 7 and eventually arrived at No. 9, as additional insurance after Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur.

However, Bangladesh have played considerably more one-day cricket, and against quality oppositions, than the Afghans. If they were to dodge this banana peel of a match, Bangladesh would have to use that experience and win crucial periods of play. And they did just that.

The openers did not score too many but survived the initial burst from Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran, which was talked about as one of the key challenges for Bangladesh ahead of the game. Tamim Iqbal and Anamul Haque were not really comfortable and the partnership could have been broken in the third over had Afghanistan reviewed a caught-behind decision. But they hung in against the new balls.

Mushfiqur later said there were nerves at the start of the match, but they slowly dissipated around halfway through the innings. Before that, Bangladesh also allowed themselves to be tied down by the medium-pace of Mirwais Ashraf.

Zadran struck a couple of blows in the middle overs, but Bangladesh had Shakib and Mushfiqur together at 119 for 4. Their two best batsmen responded with a century stand that ensured recovery and also raised the tempo of the innings. Then they pulled Bangladesh in front in the Powerplay, which is when Afghanistan's discipline came undone, as 48 runs in the five overs indicates.

When it came to the chase, Bangladesh were switched on right away. Mashrafe Mortaza and Rubel Hossain were sharp and reduced Afghanistan to 3 for 3 after three overs. Hunting down 268 from there would have been tough on far stronger batting line-ups. It would have been interesting if one of the later partnerships had become bigger, but Bangladesh did not let that happen.

In stark contrast, Afghanistan just froze under the floodlights. Coach Andy Moles credited the Bangladesh bowlers' early hostility, but also said that his top order had fallen for lack of footwork. It was almost as if they were waiting for a couple of easy overs to settle in, Moles said, and Mashrafe and his fellow quicks were in no mood to do that. Coming into the match, the Bangladesh pace attack had given their own batsmen a hard time in the nets. They were charged up further after their batsmen gave them a reasonably big total to defend.

The scoreline of 3 for 3 meant that even when the odd poor delivery came along, Afghanistan could do nothing with it. For a side known to favour the big hits, they managed 11 fours in their entire innings. Bangladesh hit 24, Shakib and Mushfiqur tallied 12.

The margin of victory may have been 105 runs but as Mushfiqur said, this was not an easy win. It was achieved with major contributions from the big players in the side, and that is not a bad way to start a World Cup. Bangladesh face Australia at the Gabba next, which will be a totally different proposition. But at least they will play without the pressure of being the favourites there.

Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on February 19, 2015, 20:24 GMT

    Fahim, you are spot on. BD has done well wining the first encounter. Sakku and Mushy are world class and that was on show that day. The problem was with the openers. They were all tied up, saving their wickets without putting up runs on the board. In the shorter format you have to score runs. The excuse given was that it wasn't easy. If Afghanistan's bowing attack makes you uneasy, what will u do when facing Australia. The Aussie quicks will eat you alive. Well done Tigers. Now you have to do even bettter. Believe! and u can do it.

  • dhola8191 on February 19, 2015, 11:12 GMT

    BD will eye on the next matches against high ranked to them. Do not forget that they have beaten all other big teams of the pool A at least once including Australia (In Cardiff , England).

  • Fogu on February 19, 2015, 1:35 GMT

    BD had everything to lose in this match and were under tremendous pressure. I am glad they handled it well and I hope they perform better as they play more games in the tournament. Go Tigers!

  • dr.bulbul on February 18, 2015, 19:13 GMT

    Bangladesh boys are there to show why they are better than West Indies, New Zealand and England. They are going to beat these three this world cup and move to 2nd round.

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2015, 18:17 GMT

    I dnt understand y BD,SL,Pak start comparing their record with that of India. Besides BD is the worst team for 15 years they have not won a test against the big 7 W.I. was 3rd grade team which they won. So pls dnt undermine wid country that's providing u d facilities to play and develop it game

  • gshant on February 18, 2015, 18:03 GMT

    @BURNT_COW --> It is not about the pitch. It is the maturity of the player to accept a hit and come with a good variation on the next delivery; IPL is just one good level of exposure to develop this attitude in a player.

  • niazbhi on February 18, 2015, 17:31 GMT

    It was a tough game for BD. Even after 50 years of test cricket, even after having world's best batsmen with experience of playing world's best quicks (at England and Asutralia), India worries about their batting collapse against pace (they were in Asutralia for 3 months to prepare). BD was struggling against pace in bouncy wickets. Despite being a newcomer, afgan team is not weak. To be honest BD is not like SRL or IND where their cricket is far ahead of associates... When BD became a test playing nation, they were a bit ahead of ireland, kenya etc. Now BD actually caught up with ZIM, they can actually compete against teams like NZ/WI at slow wickets. When it comes to facing pace bowling, Ireland, Afganistan etc. are still ahead of BD. BD bowling is disciplined.

  • burnt_cow on February 18, 2015, 16:33 GMT

    @GHSANT, do you really think IPL experience can help people in Aussie condition specifically in Gabba ? It would make more sense if you talked about his BBL experience.

  • Javiar87 on February 18, 2015, 16:13 GMT

    It is a good win and also it sent the message that all those hype about Afghanistan was just a hype. Yes we want them to do well but they lack skills which will be improved year by year. Its not like you can master skill in one day as it passes on to generation by generation. The under 17, under 19 all the way to national team. India didn't become world beaters in one day or in 1 year or in 10 years. The batsmen the produce because the skill started with the great Ranji, passed onto several generation like Gavaskar to Tendulkar to Virat Kohli. Afghanistan will do well in future but then they need to set up the structure in their own country. I actually do not believe that they have the structure to produce these players rather using Pakistan structure like Ireland uses county structure. So time will tell where Bangladesh would go and how far. Kenya was a top associate and now they lost it because no infrastructure.

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2015, 15:51 GMT

    No doubt, Bangladesh is elated to have had a decent start to their world cup! However, they could've added 20-25 more runs to their target, had remaining batsmen not thrown their wickets away. This team has the skills required to qualify for the next round. They just need to remain focused and believe in themselves. Cheers! #cholobangladesh

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