Shakib Al Hasan attempted a different route at the toss after Sunday’s defeat, but he and his Bangladesh side found themselves at the same dead end as Afghanistan completed a series victory with a third – and now inconsequential – game still to play.
The start that the ‘visitors’ managed wasn’t as morose as the end result for them, though, as Tamim Iqbal ensured he wouldn’t let the jolt of Liton Das’s second-over dismissal peg them back. He put that across explicitly in the fourth over, smashing Shapoor Zadran for four boundaries. By the powerplay stage, Bangladesh had pushed their scoring rate to seven-an-over despite Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowling three overs for just 13 runs. Even as Tamim and Mushfiqur Rahim seemed intent on nudging the run rate up much further, Asghar Stanikzai stuck to a plan that worked for him two days ago.
He retained his best weapon – Rashid Khan – for the backend, as Mohammad Nabi was entrusted with the role of stopping Bangladesh in their tracks again. In the 10th over, the experienced all-rounder broke the stand that threatened to brew into one capable of defining the match, leaving Tamim with the task of starting another rebuilding mission with a new batting partner. Skipper Shakib was the last possible candidate for that sort of a role, but a bit of scoreboard pressure and the introduction of Rashid Khan coincided to wreak havoc for Bangladesh.
If his duels against left-handed batsmen were the supposed grey area in his otherwise spectacular ability, it didn’t show. In the space of four deliveries he had both the senior batters – and both left-handers – befuddled; Shakib with flight, Tamim with a googly. Rashid then proceeded to pick two wickets in two balls once again – trapping Mosaddek Hossain plumb in front with a fast wrong ‘un. Rashid went one better than the previous fixture to pick up his fourth wicket and finish his spell with astonishing figures of 4-0-12-4, as Bangladesh fell from 101 for 4 in 15 overs to 108 for 8 in 18 overs. Karim Janat and Shapoor conceded 13 runs each in the last two overs that gave Bangladesh bowlers a total to try and make a match out of.
And they did. Mohammad Shahzad made a typically streaky start but his departure in the sixth over made way for a bit of a lull with the bat in chase. Nazmul Islam, Abu Haider and Rubel Hossain kept the runs down as Afghanistan dragged their feet to 56 for 1 at the halfway stage. Shahzad’s opening partner Usman Ghani struggled to find a way out of the rut he got into early and eventually fell for a 31-ball 21. Stanikzai too struggled in his laboured eight-ball stay for four runs, leaving the door ajar for Bangladesh to achieve series parity.
But the passage of play from where Bangladesh struggled with the bat, Afghanistan simply didn’t, even as the required rate had jumped up to nine-an-over. Samiullah Shenwari and Nabi got just the amount of runs required with minimum risk and took the game deep. Shenwari’s dismissal – for a 41-ball 49 – still kept Bangladesh’s interested. Afghanistan needed 20 off the 12 balls, but Nabi opted to seal it in just five, off Rubel, carrying his side over the line with an unbeaten 31 off 15 balls.