After beating Bangladesh by six wickets to clinch the three-match T20I series 2-0 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun yesterday, Afghanistan's middle-order batsman Shafiqullah was beaming with confidence during the post-match press conference and stated that they were the best T20I side in the world.
And why not -- it was their fourth T20I bilateral series win against a Test playing nation, and that too with a match to spare, and what Shafiqullah said after the game sent a strong message to the cricketing world.
“You know, we are the best T20 side in the world at the moment and we can beat any side in the world. We are looking for a clean sweep in the series and looking forward to our maiden Test against India,” said an excited Shafiqullah.
The air was much bleaker when the Bangladesh representative spoke at the press conference. Left-arm seamer Abu Hider said that it was a single over in each innings -- the 16th over of Bangladesh's innings from Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan that yielded three wickets and then the 19th over of Afghanistan's chase when Rubel Hossain was hammered for the 20 runs required to win the match by Mohammad Nabi -- that made the difference.
“We knew that the series would be difficult for us, and it can happen in cricket. We are not worried as we know our strengths and will work on our mistakes. Unfortunately, it was difficult for the new batsmen after we lost two [three] wickets in the same over from Rashid and I think it was a vital moment in the game,” said Hider, who struck a quickfire 21 off 14 balls to help the Tigers post 134 for eight after they were struggling at 108 for eight in 18 overs.
There had been a lot of talk about the threat from Rashid and when asked whether that had an impact, Hider said that it was a case of not being able to execute their plans against the world's top-ranked T20I bowler.
“We were unable to execute our plans against him but it's not like we were scared of him. Our plan was to take singles off Rashid and look to score off other bowlers.”
SCORES IN BRIEF
Bangladesh: 134 for 8 in 20 overs (Tamim 43, Sabbir 13, Mushfiqur 22, Mahmudullah 14, Hider 21 not out; Nabi 2-19, Rashid 4-12)
Afghanistan: 135 for 4 in 18.5 overs (Shahzad 24, Usman 21, Samiullah 49, Nabi 31 not out; Rubel 1-38, Hider 1-14, Mosaddek 2-21)
Result: Afghanistan won by 6 wickets and lead the 3-match series 2-0.