A nation which lives by bullets have just started to make waves in cricket.
Afghanistan adds another golden chapter to their small cricket history as they win their 1st ever away test in their very 2nd attempt. After being thrashed by India by an innings in their 1st ever test, they went on to beat Ireland by 7 wickets in in their adopted home at Dehradun and now being rank underdogs , they beat a stronger Bangladesh by a whopping margin of 224 runs at Chittagong, a defeat which will let loose lots of searching questions for Bangladesh cricket .
Afghanistan’s test win came in intugruing scenario with rain threat looming large on the last day as match started very late with around 20 overs possible .Bangladesh started at 136/6 and their remaining batters scrapped hard to avoid defeat and tried to bat time. However the Afghan spinners with skipper Rashid Khan in particular kept taking wickets as the overs were also ticking away and finally in a tense finish, the Afghans deservingly won the match with barely 4 overs to go for Bangladesh to scrape through with a draw.
Rashid Khan in his very first test as captain at a young age of 20, showed his allround abilities scoring 51 off 61 balls in Afghanistan’s 1st innings and claiming 11 wickets in the match against a batting lineup well adept in playing spin bowling having such stalwarts like Musfiqur, Shakib and Mahmudullah. Thus Rashid is the 3rd captain in cricket history to take 10 wickets and score 50 in the same test match after Imran Khan (v India) and Allan Border (v West Indies).
Afghanistan batted first and scored an impressive 342 in first innings with Rahmat Shah (102) scoring Afghanistan’s first ever individual century in tests using his feet well vs the home team spinners. Asghan Afghan batted well too scoring 92 and at the end Rashid Khan hit a breezy 51. It was surprising to note that Bangladesh did not take the field with a single frontline fast bowler in this test.
Batting 2nd Bangladesh batters faced serious challenge from the Afghan spinners as Rashid Khan (5/55) and Mohammed Nabi (3/56) playing his last test spun a web around the home team batsmen as Bangladesh were bundled out for a paltry 205 with their batsmen unable to tackle the deft variations and skills of the Afghan spin arsenal.
In the 2nd innings Afghanistan countered strong challenge from Bangladesh spinners as the home team tried to make a comeback but Afghan’s 50 and some important contributions down the order took the visitors to 260 ,thereby setting Bangladesh a challenging 398 target. The scoreboard pressure proved to be too much for Bangladesh as Rashid Khan and chinaman Zakir Khan combined to wreck the home team batting in 2nd innings. Bangladesh ,who has beaten most top teams at home, put up a sorry performance in the 2nd innings .Even Shakib, one of the best allrounders in the world could not carry Bangladesh through as he was dismissed for a chancy 44. Other seniors like Musfiqur and Mahmudullah couldn’t provide the grit and determination that was so much required to counter the skills of Rashid and Co as Bangladesh were crushed by 224 runs.
It was a great moment for Afghanistan cricket and for Rashid Khan who won his very first test as captain and got the player of the match award for his allround skills upstaging the more accomplished Shakib ul Hasan. The Afghans has shown that they can be menacing if they get to bowl in 4th innings of tests particularly in subcontinent due to their strong spin arsenal . Now its important for Afghanistan board to play more tests against leading teams to gain valuable experience and become more battle hardened.