Before yesterday, Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan had played four ODIs and three T20s against Bangladesh. Handling the world-class leg-spinner has always been a bothersome prospect for the Tigers. In each of the four previous ODIs that Rashid played against Bangladesh, he had managed more than one wicket and did not give away over 40 runs in any of those games.
That changed with Mahmudullah Riyad's fantastic innings of 74 yesterday. Not only was he the first Tigers batsman to hit a six off the Afghan spinner, he hit him for two sixes in the match. Rashid also ended up conceding 46 runs in his 10 overs and bagged just a wicket.
Mahmudullah used the slog sweep to great effect and hit Rashid for two sixes – one in the 43rd over and the other on the 45th, during his fantastic knock which also saved Tigers' blushes in an important game.
Even in T20s against Bangladesh – Rashid played in only three, all three of them this year, the fantastic spinner had never conceded a six. The experience was a new one for the cricketer who has bagged 10 wickets against the Tigers in ODIs so far.
Mahmudullah spoke of trying to not give wickets to Rashid, who is Afghanistan's strike bowler. Rashid bagged the wicket of Liton Das yesterday but Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah looked to play out the overs against his world-class bowling.
"We all know that Rashid Khan is a very outstanding bowler. He is playing very well and is one of the strike bowlers around the world. That does not mean however that he is unplayable. Maybe we couldn't apply ourselves against him the way we wanted. In our partnership, our plan was to not give Rashid our wicket. We dug deep and we saw it through till the end. That was our target, and Alhamdulillah, it came off," Mahmudullah said.
Having struggled to read his googly on Thursday, Mahmudulllah at first hunkered down and focused only on singles against the leg-spinner. But when he had settled down and Rashid came back to bowl in the death overs, hit him for two sixes over square leg – picking up the googly perhaps for the first time.
"I didn't do too much. We probably played three times in four days, so there wasn't much time to think. I was just playing with an empty mind," Mahmudullah recalled.
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