Asia Cup 2018: Mustafizur Rahman like a magician, says Mashrafe Mortaza
Just days after being beaten by Pakistan in a close contest, Afghanistan once again came close to crossing the finishing line but were denied by the opposition in the Asia Cup. On Sunday, Afghanistan needed just 8 runs from the final over but were denied the chance of keeping their hopes alive in the continental tournament. The defeat resulted in Afghanistan exiting the Asia Cup and place in the final coming down to Pakistan or Bangladesh with India sealing their place in Friday’s tournament decider.
Afghanistan were beaten by three wickets with three balls to spare by Pakistan and on Sunday, Bangladesh held their nerve to win by three runs. Additionally, Mustafizur Rahman, bowling the last over, was in discomfort at one point due to cramps but pulled through in the end.
“At the end of the game, Mustafizur was like a magician,” said Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza after the match. “It was difficult to defend eight runs, credit goes to Mustafizur. “Mustafizur was cramping a bit in the middle. We wanted him to bowl 10 overs but he couldn’t. It is hot and [it’s] a tough job.”
Earlier in the contest, played in Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh needed a resurgence with the bat. They were in trouble at 87/5 before Mahmudullah (74) and Imrul Kayes (72*) put together a 128-run partnership for the sixth wicket to take their side to 249/7.
“It was Mahmudullah and Kayes, playing his first game… they set it up for us with the bat,” Mortaza said. Kayes had been called into the squad only after the loss to India as an injury replacement.
Asghar Afghan, Afghanistan captain, expressed his disappointment. “We required eight off six and it was not difficult specially when (Gulbadin) Naib, one of the main batsman in the death overs was batting,” he said. “Mustafizur bowled very well, I will give credit to him. He is a good variation bowler, (but) we should have chased this total down. It was going according to our plan. In the last overs we had wickets in the hand. Maybe we should have taken singles or doubles in the last over. 250 wasn’t a lot on a wicket like that because it was good for batting. When you play against full-member teams, they don’t allow you a lot of mistakes.”