It was an eventful day at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium yesterday. Hong Kong opener Irfan Ahmed scored a duck for a golden pair in the tournament. His Afghanistan counterpart Mohammad Shahzad however not only avoided that embarrassment but also led his side to a comprehensive seven-wicket win with a belligerent 68.
The burly right-hander, who is arguably the busiest player in the Afghan ranks and was shone a yellow card by witty New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden during the Asia Cup for excessive appealing behind the wicket, did chance his arm in match. He was dropped twice but that hardly dampened his exploits with the bat. He played some astonishing shots square of the wicket but his best was a Dhoni-like helicopter shot that sailed over the long-on boundary for a six.
The victory kept a slim chance alive for the Afghans after their heavy defeat against Bangladesh in the opening match. Bangladesh however missed the aggression that they showed against Afghanistan in their game against Nepal, who with their limited strength impressed the port city audience. The cricketers from the Himalayan Kingdom scored a fighting 126 on a responsive Chittagong wicket. The disappointing aspect of the game was the decision of the Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim to field. It was anything but a bold decision from a captain who wanted to win the game at any cost. It could have been a good decision had he put his strong batting line-up on display against a side they have that strength to win.
The bowling, which was spot on against Afghanistan, was wayward and the fielding, which was outstanding the other day, was sloppy to say the least. The only highlight of an otherwise average bowling performance was new-ball pair Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Al-Amin Hossain. Mashrafe meant business with the new ball and refreshingly conceded six odd runs while bowling the penultimate over. Al-Amin bowled his inswingers well to pick up two wickets. Shakib Al Hasan was as economical as is expected of the country's best spinner.
In chase Bangladesh continued with their confident approach in the shortest format with Anamul Haque again playing an attractive hand to give the Tigers a great start along with Tamim Iqbal, who was thankfully back on the attack, as a powerful six over long on proved. In the end Nepal's 126 was just not enough and Shakib Al Hasan and new boy Sabbir Rahman hit some maximums to make short shrift of Nepal's attack to win the match with more than four overs to spare.