Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com
A stunning all-round display from Mehidy Hasan Mirza, who notched up a half-century and claimed three wickets, powered Bangladesh to a comprehensive six-wicket win over Afghanistan in their first match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in Dharamsala on Saturday.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan put his team in control with three key wickets, while Mehidy (3-25) cleaned up the tail. Afghanistan’s top scorer was Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who had 47 points. Mehidy then contributed significantly to Bangladesh’s response, scoring 57 off 73 balls as the 2015 quarter-finalists chased their target of 157 in 34.4 overs.
“I was a little bit cautious in my mind early on while bowling but the captain told me to bowl at the right areas and told me to be consistent and that gave me confidence,” Player of the Match Mehidy said. “I always play at number eight so it was a great opportunity to bat in the top order. I always have the hunger so definitely it’s a great moment for me to perform.”
Afghanistan got off to a good start, with Gurbaz putting up steady stands with Ibrahim Zadran (22) and Rahmat (18), but Shakib enticed both Ibrahim and Rahmat into risky shots, and a couple of wayward top edges ended the partnerships just as they were beginning to look dangerous. Afghanistan were in a strong position at 112/2 after 24 overs despite losing two wickets, but their hopes of building on that foundation were dashed when Hashmatullah Shahidi and Gurbaz were dismissed in quick succession.
Afghanistan’s middle order collapsed as a result, and they lost their final six wickets for just 44 runs to finish on 156. Afghanistan suffered from some poor shot selection, which resulted in wicket losses in situations where they could have won.
Bangladesh’s chase began on a shaky note, with both openers departing early, leaving them on 27-2. Mehidy’s arrival helped to steady the ship, but the 25-year-old benefited from a stroke of luck when he was caught by Najibullah Zadran on 16 runs. Mehidy and Najmul Hossain Shanto (59 not out) combined for 97 runs, and despite Rahmat Shah’s spectacular one-handed catch to end Mehidy’s innings, Bangladesh cruised to victory.