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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2016 Associate bowling winner: Mohammad Nabi's binary masterpiece

His ten overs yielded only zeroes and ones - and far more of the former - as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in a memorable match in Mirpur

Mohammad Nabi celebrates the wicket of Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh v Afghanistan, 2nd ODI, Mirpur, September 28, 2016

"No single there!" Nabi roars in delight after one of his two wickets  •  Associated Press

Key to Afghanistan's continued push for Test and Full Member status is allrounder Nabi. Few players at Associate level attract genuine interest from T20 franchise teams but he is one of them, having played in both the Bangladesh Premier League and Pakistan Super League.
Those experiences are especially valued when the rare opportunity comes to stand toe to toe with a Full Member. Nabi drew upon them in his masterfully economical performance with the ball against Bangladesh in the second ODI of their September series in Dhaka, which came just days after Afghanistan came agonisingly close to beating the hosts in the series opener.
Nabi's situational versatility is one aspect of his game that has grown in leaps and bounds during his career, and he demonstrated it once again on this night, bowling with the new ball to keep Bangladesh's openers in check during the Powerplay. In the first three overs, going up against Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar, he conceded seven singles and zero boundaries.
Coming back on later, he trapped Shakib Al Hasan for his first wicket, and ended his next over by negating Bangladesh's best threat for late-overs slogging, Mashrafe Mortaza. Bangladesh wound up all out for 208. Nabi capped his day by backing up his bowling brilliance with 49 as part of a 107-run fifth-wicket stand to steer the Afghanistan chase in what was ultimately a two-wicket victory.

Key moment

At the 30-over mark, Bangladesh had established a solid platform at 135 for 4. Shakib was at the crease and had made a solid start to reach 15 off 12 balls with two boundaries, and Sabbir Rahman had entered at the start of the 28th and was on 3 off 12 balls. Bangladesh could have launched to make in excess of 250, but a three-over passage initiated a collapse and it was sparked by Nabi.
He was brought back in the 32nd over, having bowled half his quota, but had gone wicketless until this point. He nearly got Shakib with his second ball, but a chance was spilled by Hashmatullah Shahidi on the off-side circle. Nabi kept applying pressure, though, keeping Shakib on strike until he cracked on the final delivery of the over, playing back to an arm ball that nailed him on the back leg in front of middle stump.
Rashid Khan then struck on the very next ball, the first of the 33rd, to which Sabbir played an awkward sweep and missed, to be out leg-before as well. Nabi then ended the 34th by baiting Mashrafe into attempting to clear the mid-off fielder on the circle, which the Bangladesh captain was unable to do. It concluded a stretch of three wickets for three runs between Nabi and Rashid, and Bangladesh never recovered.

The numbers

44 The number of dot balls Nabi bowled in his ten overs. The remaining 16 balls went for singles.
1 Only one other spinner, Mohammad Hafeez, has opened the bowling in an ODI and produced a ten-over spell with figures as good or better.

The closest contenders

Rashid Khan, 3 for 11 v Zimbabwe, World T20, Nagpur
Rashid kept Afghanistan's undefeated record against Zimbabwe in T20Is intact with a brilliant display of legspin bowling.
Amir Hamza, 1 for 9 v West Indies, World T20, Nagpur
Hamza's stingy spell set up the upset of the tournament, as Afghanistan beat the eventual champions.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna