Afghans fall short on World Cup debut as Bangladesh ease to victory

Cricket Stumps

Afghanistan put in a spirited performance on their World Cup debut but ultimately Bangladesh's greater experience showed through as they ran out winners.

In truth, Afghanistan never recovered from a poor start to their run chase after a disciplined effort from their bowlers had restricted Bangladesh to 267. They lost three wickets for three runs inside the first overs, immediately shifting focus away from their target and towards avoiding Canada's record low World Cup score of 36.

Thanks to a fourth-wicket stand between former skipper Nawroz Mangal and Samiullah Shenwari they breezed past that, but the required run rate was beginning to climb at an alarming rate. With the score on 65 in the 23rd over, Mangal was well-caught on the boundary for 27 by an initially wrong-footed Rubel Hossain, who subsequently had to be helped off for treatment on a lower leg injury. Thakfully, he would return later and bowl apparently unhindered.

Mangal's wicket was followed by that of Shenwari for 42, with current captain Mohammad Nabi then leading a mini renaissance. He found support from Najibullah Zadran during a sixth-wicket partnership worth 58, but was seventh man out when he mistimed to Soumya Sarkar at mid-off to end his cameo at all-too-brief 44 off 43 balls and hand opposite number Mashrafe Mortaza his third wicket.

The end came quickly after that, with Shakib Al Hasan rewarded for a consistent spell by taking the final wicket to end with two for 43.

The near-capacity crowd of over 10,000 at the Manuka Oval in Australia's capital city, and made up of mostly Bangladesh fans, celebrated their side's win. They had been partying joyously for much of the match: dancing to the music, attempting to avoid incineration by the flame-throwers, and generally having a good time.

Earlier, they had seen their team choose to bat and make a cautious start as they looked to counter the Afghan's main threat: their opening bowling pair of Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran. It took 25 overs to reach 100, but only two wickets had been lost and the experienced pair of Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim were able to build on that to add 114 in little more than 13 overs.

Shakib hit 63 off 51 balls and Rahim 71 off 56 to take the game away from the Afghans. There would be no late-innings impetus - the 32 balls following Shakib's dismissal yielding only 34 runs - as Aftab Alam became the fourth bowler after Hassan, Shapoor and Mirwais Ashraf to take two wickets. Bangladesh's total, however, would already prove more than enough for the World Cup debutants.

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