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3rd Match, Group B (N), Sharjah, August 30, 2022, Men's T20 Asia Cup
(18.3/20 ov, T:128) 131/3

Afghanistan won by 7 wickets (with 9 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match

Afghanistan fight back to storm into the next round

Mujeeb and Rashid were stars with the ball, before Najibullah and Ibrahim stunned Bangladesh in the chase

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
Afghanistan 131 for 3 (Najibullah 43*, Ibrahim 42*) beat Bangladesh 127 for 7 (Mosaddek 48*, Mujeeb 3-16, Rashid 3-22) by seven wickets
Afghanistan became the first team to qualify for the Super 4 round of the Asia Cup after winning a tense chase against Bangladesh in Sharjah.
The victory was set up by spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, who picked up three wickets each to reduce Bangladesh to 89 for 6 in the 16th over. Mosaddek Hossain's unbeaten 48 off 31 balls lifted them to 127 for 7 but it was still far from a competitive total.
Afghanistan, though, struggled in the chase. They were 48 for 2 after ten overs, and then needed 61 off 33 balls. But Najibullah Zadran changed the game with a flurry of sixes, and his unbroken partnership of 69 off 5.3 overs with Ibrahim Zadran took Afghanistan home with nine balls to spare.
Mujeeb hits Bangladesh hard in the powerplay
Mujeeb rocked Bangladesh's top order by taking a wicket in each of his first three overs. He hit Mohammad Naim's leg stump with a carrom ball that zipped through a huge bat-pad gap, and then rapped Anamul Haque on his back leg as he tried to play a shot that was somewhere between a sweep and a pull.
Shakib Al Hasan tried to counter attack, hitting Naveen-ul-Haq for back to back fours, but lost his stumps to another carrom ball while trying to go after Mujeeb in the last over of the powerplay.
Rashid picks up three too
Mushfiqur Rahim found himself saddled with one of the toughest jobs in T20 cricket - facing Rashid with your side 28 for 3 in six overs. It took Rashid just two balls to trap him lbw with a googly.
Afif Hossain and Mahmudullah tried to stabilise the innings, adding 25 at a run a ball before Rashid struck again. Afif went back to another googly and was late in bringing his bat down as the ball thudded into his front pad. And Mahmudullah holed out trying to play a slog sweep to become Rashid's third victim.
Mosaddek's lone hand
After coming in at 53 for 5, Mosaddek led a fightback to give Bangladesh a chance, after surviving a close call. He had charged Mohammad Nabi to launch him back over his head. Azmatullah Omarzai ran to his right from long-off, caught the ball and lobbed it to Rashid, who was coming in from long-on. The replays showed Omarzai's foot just brushing the boundary cushion when he was still in possession of the ball - Mosaddek had struck Bangladesh's first six in the 12th over of the game.
Mosaddek took his chances whenever the Afghanistan bowlers erred in their lines or lengths. Naveen and Rashid were glanced to the fine-leg boundary. When Farooqi failed to land his yorker, Mosaddek opened the face of the bat to find the gap between backward point and short third. He and Mahedi Hasan added 38 off 24 balls for the seventh wicket to give Bangladesh a total of 127 for 7.
Afghanistan start poorly
Just like they did against Sri Lanka, Afghanistan's openers - Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Hazratullah Zazai - tried to attack but could not succeed on this Sharjah pitch. Gurbaz did hit Mustafizur Rahman over his head in the second over but was lucky that Mahmudullah put down a catch when he tried to do the same against Shakib in the next over.
In the fifth over, Gurbaz once again charged at Shakib but the bowler shortened his length. The ball kept low as well and went under Gurbaz's bat, leaving Mushfiqur with plenty of time to complete the stumping.
Hazratullah hit a couple of powerful fours off the back foot but he too struggled for timing and was lbw to Mosaddek for 23 off 26 balls. Nabi promoted himself to No. 4 but could manage only 8 off 9 balls before Mohammad Saifuddin had him lbw.
Najibullah unleashes a storm of sixes
With 63 required from the last six overs, it felt as though Bangladesh were favourites on this pitch, but Najibullah changed the game with his scintillating six-hitting.
Ibrahim first released the pressure with back-to-back fours off Taskin Ahmed before Najibullah took over. He swatted Mahedi over deep midwicket, and then launched Mustafizur over deep midwicket and long-off for two more sixes. That brought the equation down to 26 off 18 balls.
Ibrahim hit Saifuddin's first ball of the 18th over for a four before Najibullah smashed one more four and two sixes to make it 22 runs off the over. With just three needed off ten balls, Najibullah hit Mosaddek into the sightscreen to seal the game.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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