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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

World Cup Report Match 7: Bangladesh v Afghanistan


Afghanistan's first match in a World Cup always felt as though it was going to be a bridge too far, whereas Bangladesh simply could not afford to lose a game to their opponent, lest their obvious slide out of competitiveness in the cricket world advance at an alarming rate. The expected result occurred, and little advancement was made.
In batting first, Bangladesh was stymied in their efforts from some accurate bowling from the Afghani bowlers. Right armed Hamid Hassan, donned in sweatband around his head and war paint on his cheeks, got points for his attitude, while opening partner left armed Shapoor Zadran bowled at good pace. His second spell, where he picked up two wickets to halt Bangladesh's progress, was well worth watching. Mirwais Ashraf, apart from conceding 17 runs from his ninth and final over, kept the brakes on the batsman. All three picked up two wickets apiece, and did not look out of place on the international scene. The fielding however was not impressive, with plenty of runs left through from misfields, boundaries allowed by fieldsman unable to adjust to the pace of the outfield, and vital catches put down that could have changed the course of proceedings.
High farce endured when the leg spinner Shenwari was given two official warnings for running on the pitch in his first over, only to then be banned for the innings two balls into his second over for a third official infringement. Despite the fact it was blatant, it showed either than this is generally overlooked in the Afghanistan national league, or their coaches have been looking the other way for a long, long time. His start had been good as well, and this possibly cost the Afghani's a better chance at dismissing Bangladesh for a lower total. Or, perhaps it was just a plot against the world Leg Spinner's Union.
Bangladesh's top order of Animul, Tamim, Mahmudullah and Sarkar were cautious to the point that it eventually cost them their wickets. It was left to their most accomplished International batsmen, Shakib and Mushfiqur to rally in the middle order and set up their total. Both sides would have been happy with the 267 Bangladesh scored.
Afghanistan's start couldn't have been much worse, falling to 3/3 in the third over. Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza bowled as he has shown he can over the past decade with pace and swing, but far too infrequently. Perhaps the captaincy will finally bring the best out of his talent. Nawroz and Shenwari rebuilt the innings with 62 for the 4th wicket, and 58 for the 6th wicket between Nabi and Zadran showed promise and added respectability, without even threatening to snatch an unlikely victory. Bangladesh's bowling was tidy without being especially threatening, eventually bowling out their opponents for 162 to win by 105 runs.

Both teams will publicly say they took away good things from this match. Afghanistan will point to the positives of their bowling and middle order batting. Bangladesh will say their patience in building a defendable total and the initial strike of their opening bowlers were keys to their success. In essence, the fielding of both teams is below par. Afghanistan will be monstered by Australia and New Zealand unless their fielding and top order batting can improve and sustain itself. Bangladesh still rely too much on four or five players to star to win matches. Given that the rain does not wash their match out against Australia on Saturday in Brisbane, that will be a sterner test for their capabilities and their promise moving forward.
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