The Bangladesh-Afghanistan Asia Cup encounter in Abu Dhabi on Thursday was marred by the fact that the organisers, the Asian Cricket Council, made a last-minute change to the Super Four fixtures on Wednesday morning. They determined the group champions and runners-up of each group before they were decided on the field and named the Super Four fixtures.
It is widely believed that it was to accommodate financial powerhouses India, who demanded to play all their matches in Dubai before the tournament. It drew angry words from Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, and seemed to affect Bangladesh to the extent that the skipper admitted to being confused during the 136-run loss to Afghanistan.
However, ACC's shenanigans did not change the fact that Bangladesh had to play two matches in two days, which was the case in the original schedule. It was the same case for Afghanistan, and they would have been disheartened to. But they showed far more clarity of thought than their higher-ranked opponents on Thursday, and it was reflected in player-of-the-match and birthday boy Rashid Khan's words after the match.
When asked about the fact that they had less than 16 hours' recovery time before they had to return to Abu Dhabi from Dubai and take on Pakistan in their first Super Four match, Rashid did not seem bothered.
"Being a professional player, I think we should not look into that -- let it be 16 or 12 or 10 hours. We have to be ready for it," said Rashid, who took two for 13 from nine overs after hammering a 32-ball 57 that changed the complexion of the game, which ended in a 136-run win for Afghanistan.
"We can play right now as well if they tell us to. As professional we need to improve our fitness and we have been working hard on that in the last five to six months, which played a key role in this condition. It is very hot, so fitness is key here. We are ready for the next game. Hopefully 16 hours is enough for us to recover and give the same performance tomorrow."
This was in sharp contrast to Bangladesh's attitude before the match. There was a lot of complaining about the fact that they would have to play an important game [Friday's Super Four match against India] less than 15 hours after completing one that was rendered inconsequential by the administrators.
Afghanistan wanted to win the match they were playing, while Mashrafe and Bangladesh were more worried about the following day. In the end, that, more even perhaps than Rashid's brilliance, proved decisisve.