Afghanistan start off tour of India with a victory

Though it is not common practice on this section of the website to give detailed match reports, it’s only fair that Afghanistan get a mention for the impressive start to their tour of India. This tour will see them play their first ever Test match in a couple of weeks time, and starts off with three T20I’s against Bangladesh.

The opponent

Bangladesh have made major steps forward in their progress as a competitive cricket team on the International stage in recent years, though it worth noting that this progress has been much more evident in the ODI and Test format than T20I’s. In the shortest form of the game, they are the tenth ranked team in the world, but much of the talent that has led to their improvement in other formats are involved in T20’s, and make them a dangerous side.

The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim are proven International caliber players, and their presence in this game was enough to make Bangladesh relatively comfortable favorites against the newcomers in Afghanistan.

The game itself

Afghanistan showed, however, that odds were no hurdle for them. After losing the toss and being sent in to bat, the newest team in world cricket started off on a mission. Mohammad Shahzad and Usman Ghani put on 62 runs in 51 deliveries for the opening stand, though after slumping to 4/91 off 13.5 overs, it appeared that Bangladesh had put the brakes on what earlier had the potential to be a formidable total.

Samiullah Shenwari had other ideas. He came in and blasted 36 runs off 18 balls, and when he perished at the end of the 18th over, Shafiqullah entered the fray and managed 24 off just eight deliveries. By the end of their 20 overs, Afghanistan had reached the very respectable total of 8/167.

With plenty of firepower in their batting lineup, Bangladesh would have been confident of chasing down this target, but perhaps the most dangerous batsmen at their disposal fell first ball of their innings. When Tamim Iqbal was given out LBW for a golden duck, the odds might have swung just a little bit in Afghanistan’s favour.

Three overs later, captain Shakib Al Hasan was also sent back to the shed for just 15 runs off 14 deliveries, leaving Bangladesh reeling at 2/21 off 3.4 overs. They recovered their way to 3/79 off 10 overs and appeared well placed to accelerate and chase down the total, but star spinner Rashid Khan picked up two wickets in two balls to put that idea to bed.

Bangladesh worked their way to 5/108, but they were always behind the eight-ball, and when they tried to lift things a notch, Afghanistan rose to the challenge. Thanks to Rashid Khan, Shapoor Zadran, and Karim Janat, they cleaned up the tail for just a handful of runs, bowling Bangladesh out for 122 runs in 19 overs.

The 45-win result was an outstanding achievement for Afghanistan, and a terrific start to what is an historic tour for them. With two more T20I’s to come against Bangladesh, a series win is a huge possibility. Following that, the biggest challenge in the nation’s cricketing history will come against India - let’s hope they can acquit themselves just as well in that matchup.