Bangladesh 158 for 4 (Shanto 59*, Mehidy 57, Omarzai 1-9) beat Afghanistan 156 (Gurbaz 47, Mehidy 3-25, Shakib 3-30) by six wickets
After being sent in, Afghanistan got off to a solid start before Shakib changed the momentum with the wickets of Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah. Afghanistan could never recover from there, slipping from 83 for 1 to 156 all out.
The scenic backdrop makes Dharamsala one of the most picturesque venues in world cricket, but the sand-based, sticky outfield didn’t make for pleasant viewing. Fielders had their knees sticking in when they put in slides, and puffs of dust could be seen when fast bowlers ran in to bowl. Luckily, both sides seemed to have escaped without any injury.
Shakib broke the 47-run stand when Ibrahim tried to sweep one from well outside off and ended up top-edging to deep square-leg. A few overs later, the Bangladesh captain had Rahmat, too, in a similar manner – the only difference being that this one was a catch near short extra cover.
Rahmat’s wicket put the brakes on the scoring rate: in overs 16 to 19, Afghanistan managed just five runs. Captain Hashmatullah Shahidi, in particular, struggled to rotate the strike against Mehidy. In the 22 balls he faced from the offspinner, Shahidi scored just three runs.
He tried to break the shackles by pulling Mahmudullah for a four and then charging down the track to Mustafizur Rahman to smash him through the covers. But when he tried to take on Mehidy, he ended up skying one miles into the air and was caught at mid-on.
At the other end, Gurbaz became the fastest Afghanistan to reach 1000 ODI runs. He got there in 27 innings, bettering Rahmat’s Afghanistan record by four innings. But Shahidi’s struggles had had an impact on him as well. In an attempt to increase the scoring rate, he gave charge to Mustafizur, only to find out the seamer had slipped in a slower ball, and his miscued swing was taken by Tanzid Hasan charging in from deep cover.
Shakib then returned to pick up his third wicket as Najibullah Zadran played down the wrong line and was bowled. In the next over, Mohammad Nabi chopped one from Taskin Ahmed on to his stumps to leave Afghanistan 126 for 6.
Azmatullah Omarzai and Rashid Khan took the side to 150 before Rashid, too, fell victim to the slowness of the surface and played on Mehidy. The innings didn’t last long after that.
Defending 156, Afghanistan had a wayward start with the ball, with both Fazalhaq Farooqi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman struggling with their lines. Despite that, Bangladesh found themselves at 27 for 2. Tanzid Hasan was run out after a mix-up with Litton Das. Two overs later, Litton himself got an inside edge on to his stumps against Farooqi.
All of a sudden, Afghanistan had a chance to come back into the game. That they couldn’t was down to their own mistakes. Najibullah put down Mehidy at backward point off Farooqi when the total was 38. Mehidy got another life soon after when Mujeeb dropped him at deep third off Naveen-ul-Haq. He was on 16 and 23, respectively, at the time of those reprieves.
Mehidy and Shanto largely played percentage cricket after that, and were happy to pick up ones and twos. Still, it took only 58 balls for Mehidy to bring up his half-century. By the time Afghanistan broke the 97-run stand, Bangladesh were only 33 away from the target – just enough for Shanto to complete his half-century.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo