Najibullah Zadran blasts Afghanistan to win over Bangladesh in Asia Cup 2022

Mohammad Nabi's side are first team to qualify for Super 4 after seven-wicket victory in Sharjah

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Afghanistan became the first team to qualify for the Super 4 round of the Asia Cup after securing a seven-wicket win over Bangladesh at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Chasing 128 for victory, Afghanistan were in trouble at 62-3 when Najibullah Zadran (43) joined Ibrahim Zadran (42) at the wicket for an unbeaten stand of 69 as they won with nine balls to spare in the Group B match.

Spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan took three wickets each to set up the victory as Afghanistan restricted their opponents to 127-7 after Bangladesh elected to bat first.

Afghanistan registered their second straight victory to become the first of the six teams to reach the next phase of the competition.

“Everyone knows Rashid and Mujeeb are world-class spinners, that’s why we were in the game in the first 10 overs,” Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi said.

“Everyone knows we have power hitters in the death and that’s why we made sure not to lose early wickets, so that our power hitters could finish the game.”

Afghanistan lost Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 11 when skipper Shakib Al Hasan, playing his 100th T20 international, had the opener stumped with his left-arm spin.

Mosaddek Hossain dismissed Hazratullah Zazai lbw for 23 as Afghanistan seemed to lose control of their chase with runs hard to come by.

Nabi departed in the 13th over and the Bangladesh supporters, who clearly outnumbered the Afghans, raised the roof.

But the left-handed Najibullah timed the chase to perfection as he finished with six sixes and one four in his 17-ball blitz.

The innings put Ibrahim's knock in the shade as he could only manage four fours in his more sedate 41-ball effort.

Earlier, off-spinner Mujeeb mopped up the top three batters, including the key wicket of Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, inside the batting power play to finish with 3-16 before Rashid (3-22) rushed through the middle-order with his sharp googlies.

Mosaddek Hossain top scored with 48 not out off 31 balls which featured the only lucky six of the innings. Azmatullah Omarzai did catch out Mosaddek but touched the boundary cushion with his boot before relaying the ball into the hands of Rashid.

“It was always tough when you lose four wickets in the first seven to eight overs,” Shakib said. “I thought the bowlers bowled exceptionally well to get us back into the game, [but] we know that Najibullah is a dangerous player.

“On a wicket like this we thought we had the game, but credit to how they batted.”

Group A table-toppers India, who defeated Pakistan on Sunday, face qualifiers Hong Kong on Wednesday in Dubai.

Updated: August 30, 2022, 6:50 PM
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