‘Everyone knows Rashid and Mujeeb are world class spinners’
Najibullah Zadran's batting blitz and "world class" spinners powered Afghanistan into the Asia Cup Super-Four stage with a seven-wicket win over Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Chasing 128 for victory, Afghanistan were in trouble at 62-3 when Najibullah (43 not out) joined Ibrahim Zadran (42 not out) for an unbeaten stand of 69 as they won with nine balls to spare in Sharjah.
Spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan took three wickets each to set up the victory as Afghanistan restricted their opponents to 127-7 after Bangladesh elected to bat first in the Twenty20 tournament.
Afghanistan, led by Mohammad Nabi, registered their second straight victory to become the first of the six teams to reach the next phase of the competition, which acts as a tune-up to the T20 World Cup in October-November.
"Everyone knows Rashid and Mujeeb are world class spinners, that's why we were in the game in the first 10 overs," said an elated Nabi.
"We were ahead of the game because we got early wickets. Everyone knows we have power hitters in the death. That's why we made sure not to lose early wickets, so that our power hitters could finish the game."
Meanwhile, Mujeeb, who was named the player-of- the-match, said that he was looking to bowl wicket to wicket.
"My strength is to bowl with the new ball. I have played before in Sharjah. My plan was to bowl wicket to wicket and that worked for me," said Mujeeb.
Afghanistan lost Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 11 when skipper Shakib Al Hasan, playing his 100th T20 international, had the opener stumped with his left-arm spin.
Mosaddek Hossain dismissed Hazratullah Zazai for 23 as Afghanistan seemed to lose control of their chase with runs hard to come by.
Nabi departed in the 13th over and the Bangladesh supporters, who clearly outnumbered the Afghans, raised the roof.
But the left-handed Najibullah timed the chase to perfection as he finished with a flurry of sixes and one four in his 17-ball blitz.
"The wicket was a bit low so I tried to play straight. I took a few balls and played my natural game. I don't look at the boundary, I just look at the bowler and look to hit," said Najibullah.
The innings put Ibrahim's knock in the shade as he hit four fours in his 41-ball stay.