Nasum Ahmed's powerplay blitz with the ball ended Bangladesh's eight-match losing streak in T20Is, as they convincingly beat Afghanistan in the first of the two T20Is at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, where, for a change, the pitch didn't have too much venom for the spinners.
It made Nasum's effort even more outstanding, as he ripped through the Afghanistan top order with figures of 4-0-10-4, as captain Mahmudullah smartly bowled him out within the first seven overs of their defense to keep the visitors under pressure.
Bangladesh's catching also stood out in their first match in front of a full-house home crowd in two years, after they held on to nine catches - the joint-most by them in a white-ball match. This, despite the ball falling just wide of Nasum in the second ball of Afghanistan's chase, debutant Munim Shahriar dropping a simple catch in the second over and Litton Das missing out on a relatively difficult chance.
Nasum's dream four-over spell
Nasum's opening spell was the stuff of dreams for Bangladesh. He became the first from this country to take a four-for in the powerplay of a T20I, and the first to take the first four wickets in it. And before all this, there was the missed chance off the second ball of the Afghanistan innings.
But Nasum made amends just two deliveries later when he had Rahmanullah Gurbaz caught by the debutant Yasir Ali at cover-point for a duck. And in spite of Shahriar's drop in Nasum's next over, the latter came back brilliantly, removing Hazratullah Zazai with a top-edge to mid-off. One ball later, Nasum significantly slowed down his stock delivery, only for debutant Darwish Rasooli to be bowled trying a slog-sweep too early.
However, Nasum wasn't done yet. In his next over, Karim Janat chipped Nasum straight to cover to make it 20 for 4 in the fifth over. And although Najibullah Zadran, who was dropped on four by Litton, steadied the ship for the visitors by adding 37 with Mohammad Nabi, four early losses with not much to come meant they weren't able to go at the right pace.
Nabi's attempt to slash Shakib Al Hasan ended up with a catch at deep cover in the 11th over, before Najibullah too fell to Shakib in his next over. This time, however, Shahriar made amends by taking the catch cleanly. Shoriful Islam cleaned up the tail with three wickets, including that of Rashid Khan, as Bangladesh kept taking their chances.
Litton plays lone hand
But when Bangladesh batted, Litton, who hit 60 off 44 deliveries, had looked most comfortable, often simply stroking the ball rather than slogging it. When he struck a six through midwicket, the slog-sweep had more timing than power, while his second six was an upper-cut. Litton also struck four boundaries along the ground, almost playing a lone hand in dragging the Bangladesh innings forward.
Litton reached his fifty off 34 balls in the 14th over, having added 33 for the fourth wicket with Mahmudullah, and 46 for the fifth with Afif Hossain. It was the latter partnership that gave Bangladesh hope of a good finish, which was dashed when the pair fell within three balls of each other.
Fazalhaq Farooqi and Azmatullah Omarzai took two wickets each, but it was Rashid who removed Shahriar in a mean spell. He took 1 for 15 from his four overs, while fellow legspinner Qais Ahmed also got a wicket.
However, Bangladesh sending out Mohammad Naim to open with Shahriar was a surprising choice. Naim had struggled badly in the recent BPL - he had entered double figures only twice in seven innings then - and also looked out of sorts during his stay that lasted only five balls on the day.
Shahriar, though, connected with three boundaries, suggesting a bit of promise as a big-hitting opener after riding on the confidence of a BPL season where he cracked 178 runs at a strike rate of 152.