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Bangladesh recovers to beat Afghanistan in ODI series opener

By Pti
Mehidy Hasan (File photo) and Afif Hossain stitched together an unbeaten 174 in a record seventh-wicket stand

Chattogram, Feb 23: Afif Hossain and Mehidy Hasan combined for a national record 174-run partnership in an unbroken seventh wicket stand as Bangladesh recovered from a 45-6 to beat Afghanistan by four wickets in the first one-day international on Wednesday.

Both players hit their career-best knocks in the process to frustrate Afghanistan. Afif posted an unbeaten 93, his maiden 50-plus output, and Mehidy added 81 not out as Bangladesh raced to victory with seven balls to spare after Afghanistan was bowled out for 215 in 49.1 overs.

Afghanistan's spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi - described by Tamim Iqbal as world's best - could take only two wickets, with Afif and Mehidy keeping them at bay.

Playing only his second ODI, pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi left Bangladesh 18-4 as Afghanistan appeared to have closed the game. Mujeeb (1-32) took the wicket of Shakib (10), who was the only one of Bangladesh's top six to reach double digits.

Rashid Khan (1-30) then claimed the wicket of Mahmudullah with a half tracker, edging Afghanistan closer to its seventh straight ODI victory. But Afif and Mehidy rose when it mattered most. Their strategy to play with caution and aggression served them well and frustrated Afghanistan as the evening dew largely kept the Afghan spin trio ineffective.

Afif cut Rashid for a single to reach his half-century off 64 balls. Mehidy pulled pacer Yamin Ahmadzai for boundary through square leg to bring up his second half-century off 79 balls. Farooqi, who finished with 4-54, came back in his second spell hoping to provide the breakthrough but he was also denied as Afif and Mehidy finished the game in style with the former pulling Gulbadin Naib for a boundary though mid-wicket.

Najibullah Zadran earlier struck a superb 67 off 84 to give Afghanistan's total respectability. Mustafizur Rahman finished with 3-35 while Shakib Al Hasan, Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam took two wickets each.

Mustafizur broke through with the wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz (7) and then Shoriful and Taskin got into the act, reducing Afghanistan to 102-4. Najibullah and Nabi shared a 63-run partnership for the fifth wicket as Afghanistan appeared set for big total.

Taskin broke the partnership, dismissing Nabi before it caused further damage. Shakib struck twice, getting rid of Naib (17) and Rashid for duck in the same over to leave Najibullah alone to take care of the innings. Najibullah brought up his 13th ODI fifty his off 70 balls, pushing a delivery from Shakib toward square for a single.

However, Shoriful removed him in the penultimate over before Mustafizur cleaned up the tail. Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi had won the toss and elected to bat in the series opener.

The loss snapped Afghanistan's six-match ODI winning streak. Bangladesh is hosting Afghanistan for three ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals.

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Story first published: Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 20:17 [IST]
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