Afghanistan’s first Cricket World Cup match ended in defeat on Wednesday when Bangladesh took three wickets in the first three overs on the way to beating the fledgling side by 105 runs.
Afghanistan thrilled thousands of flag-waving expatriates at Manuka Oval earlier in the day by making a promising start to its debut match in the 50-over tournament, taking four early wickets and then rallying after Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim combined for a 114-run partnership to bowl Bangladesh, which won the toss, out for 267.
But Afghanistan was never in the match in reply, failing to hit its first boundary until the 10th over and requiring an unlikely nine runs per over with 15 overs to go. It was all out for 162 runs in 42.5 overs.
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi, who spent time in a Pakistan refugee camp, top-scored with 44 runs before being removed by fellow skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh bowler’s third wicket of the night.
The play of the match came when Bangladesh’s Rubel Hossain made an outstanding catch at the long-boundary to dismiss Nawroz Mangal for 27.
Earlier, fast bowler Mirwais Ashraf took Afghanistan’s first World Cup wicket, having Tamim Iqbal (19) acrobatically caught by wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai to end a 47-run opening stand. Bangladesh slipped to 52-2 when Ashraf struck again, trapping Anamul Haque (29) lbw, and to 119-4 in the 30th after Shapoor Zadran (2-20) removed Soumya Sarkar (28) and Mahmudullah (23).
Veterans Mushfiqur (71) and Shakib (63) restored the innings for Bangladesh before both were dismissed in a late collapse, with Afghanistan taking three wickets in the last seven balls.
Bangladesh, which has been playing at the World Cup since 1999, was under intense pressure entering the match as the established team in cricket’s elite against a team that started almost from scratch in the last two decades.
Afghanistan, 12th in the ICC rankings and which won its only previous one-day international against Bangladesh at the Asian Cup last year, showed nerves and inexperience when it failed to refer at least two questionable umpiring decisions to the third umpire and gave away too many runs for overthrows from basic fielding errors.
And in the 33rd over, leg spinner Samiullah Shenwari, who scored 42 runs for Afghanistan before being run out, had to be taken out of the attack after bowling just seven balls when he failed to heed a caution from the umpire for running on the pitch after his delivery.
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