Abu Dhabi, Sep 24: Bangladesh kept their hopes of reaching the Asia Cup final alive in Abu Dhabi with a nail-biting three-run win over Afghanistan.
After defeat to India on Friday, Bangladesh bounced back well to leave them needing a victory against Pakistan – who were thrashed by India in Dubai – on Tuesday to force a rematch with Rohit Sharma's men.
A superb batting display from Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah rescued what could have been a miserable day for Bangladesh, the Tigers having slipped to 87-5 in the 21st over.
However, a 128-run partnership for the sixth wicket turned their fortunes around and was pivotal as they posted 249-7 from their 50 overs.
Afghanistan appeared well out of the running until some clean hitting from Mohammad Nabi and Samiullah Shenwari turned the match on its head.
Needing 58 from the final 33 balls, Afghanistan suddenly found their target coming into view but they lost crucial late wickets to come up agonisingly short.
Aflab Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman both enjoyed early success with the ball for Afghanistan to leave Bangladesh 18-2, and some kamikaze running put their challenge in serious jeopardy.
Shakib Al Hasan was first to go when Mushfiqur Rahim turned down a risky single to midwicket, and two overs later the latter followed as Rashid broke the stumps from Nabi's throw.
Kayes and Mahmudullah settled the nerves with a superb stand that proved crucial in the grand scheme of things.
Afghanistan also lost early wickets but Mohammad Shahzad and then Hashmatuallh Shahidi gave them hope with impressive knocks.
Building partnerships had proved Afghanistan's downfall, until Nabi and Shenwari got together, the pair throwing caution to the wind as Bangladesh began to feel the nerves.
Suddenly Afghanistan only needed 19 off the final two overs, a target drastically cut when Nabi launched Shakib for six early in the penultimate over.
Only eight runs were required off the last but Mustafizur Rahman bowled with great discipline to get Bangladesh over the line in dramatic fashion.