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Asia Cup 2018: Birthday boy Rashid Khan stars in Afghanistan’s 136-run victory over Bangladesh

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On a day he turned 20, Rashid Khan ensured he wasn’t kept off anything – batting, bowling, and fielding – to lead Afghanistan to an emphatic 136-run victory over Bangladesh in their final Group B match of the Asia Cup match in Abu Dhabi, on Thursday.

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You’d think he was a batsman in the way he smashed his way to a brilliant 50 off just 30 balls, even as batsmen around him found it difficult to score. But then he is also a prime leg-spinner and figures of nine overs, 2/13 with three maidens were equally as effective as those runs that carried Afghanistan from 160/7 in the 41st over to 255 at end of 50th.

Then there was his run-out of Abu Hider Rony that completed a scintillating performance – one that testified his emergence from a teenage to adulthood. It also showed the distance he had covered from starting as a killer bowler to someone in the reckoning for being called a true all-rounder.

Khan stepped into the crease with Afghanistan stuttering at 150/6. Top scorer Hashmatullah Shahidi has just been dismissed for a patient 58 from 92 balls. Ten runs later Mohammad Nabi departs, but the Afghans lose none after that. In between Khan and partner Gulbadin Naib (42) has stitched a wonderful 95-run partnership to take the score to a respectable score of 255. 19 of those came in the final over from Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza, all of them from Rashid.

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The birthday boy had a reply to everything thrown at him. A bent sweep to a ball down the leg, a pulled six for a Rubel Hossain bounder. Then the signature cover drive, the last of which brought Khan his fourth half-century.

In reply, Bangladesh was bowled out for a paltry 119 in 42.1 overs and again Rashid was the architect. He claimed two wickets, both of which were of danger men Shakib Al Hasan (32) and Mahmudullah (27) – Bangladesh’s top-two run scorers in the match.

Until Rashid’s arrival, the pair had built up a steady 36-run partnership to patch up the early holes created by the combination of Mujeeb, Aftab Alam and Naib. All of whom got the early breakthrough to dent Bangladesh’s hopes of a victory. But Shakib and Mahmudullah have been in such situations before – remember the 224 against New Zealand in Champions Trophy 2017 – and once threatened to take to match away. Rashid would, however, have none.

First, he castled the experienced Shakib plumb in front of the wicket before cleaning Mahmudullah with a googly to further sink the batting side down. Mosaddek Hossain stayed not out on 26, but the tail below him couldn’t and the inevitable arrived when Rubel was trapped LBW by Mujeeb in the 43rd over to finish what he had started (Mujeeb took the first wicket).

Earlier, winning the toss Afghanistan chose to bat first. But failed to get off to a good start with Ihsanullah Janat departing cheaply in just the second over. Afghanistan’s saviour in the previous match, Rahmat Shah then followed him cleaned bowled by Abu Hider. Mohammad Shahzad (37) and Shahidi then struck a 51-run partnership but were dismissed in succession with skipper Asghar Afghan coming for a glance in between their wickets.

The victory Afghanistan’s second consecutive 100+ run victory meant they qualified for the super four unblemished. The Afghans take on Pakistan on Friday, while Bangladesh comes up against a rejuvenated India on the same day.

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