A brave half-century from Afif Hossain and a good bowling effort helped Bangladesh claim a slim 7-run win over a lively UAE and take a 1-0 lead in the two-game Twenty20 series.
Sent in to bat first, Bangladesh rode on Afif’s unbeaten 55-ball 77 to post 158 for 5 before three-wicket hauls from Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Shoriful Islam extinguished UAE hopes of a victory with two balls remaining at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
The UAE began well in their chase losing only the wicket of opener Muhammad Waseem (15) in the powerplay to a run-out and scoring 43 runs. The other opener Chirag Suri (35) forged ahead with Aryan Lakra (19) in a quickfire 22-ball 39-run in the second wicket.
Miraz struck twice in quick succession to cut the pair’s foray short as Suri danced down the track and Lakra popped an easy pouch at short third man as the hosts were reduced to 79 for 3 in 10 overs.
Mustafizur Rahman sent skipper Chundangapoyil Rizwan (6) packing for a superb catch to Miraz at point in the next over before Shoriful snared Basil Hameed for 2 two more overs later.
Miraz grabbed his third holding on to a return catch as Afif made his mark in the innings with a fine throw at the bowler’s end to leave UAE on 105 for 7 and seemingly out of gas in the chase.
However, Aayan Afzal Khan (25) pressed on with Karthik Meiyappan (12) and reached 150 in the final over in which their team needed 11 runs to win, thanks to Mosaddek Hossain’s fluff near the boundary and some overthrows.
Although Saif Uddin gave Afzal another reprieve with four balls remaining, Shoriful took him out and Junaid Siddique in successive balls to halt the chase on 151 as Mosaddek made amends by holding on to a catch in the same position.
Earlier, the Tigers’ toporder failed to show improvement after a lacklustre show in the Asia Cup. The batters picked out the fielders with their lofted shots more often than not.
Given another opportunity at the top of the order, Sabbir Rahman (0) failed to show up at work and pulled Sabir Ali straight to deep midwicket in the second over.
Litton Das (13) smashed three boundaries in seven deliveries before skying Afzal to depart, and in came Afif. Miraz, who had opened the innings with Sabbir, also chipped one straight to the fielder to leave Bangladesh struggling on 42 for 3 after the powerplay.
Afif received two reprieved, one of which was during the powerplay, on his way to a career-best knock. He dug deep with the team stuttering around him. Yasir Ali (4) and Mosaddek (3) also contributed little to leave Bangladesh tottering on 77 for 5 in 11 overs.
But the arrival of captain Nurul Islam Sohan (35 off 25 balls) provided impetus as Afif reached the third half-century of his career off 37 balls. The duo stitched up the first 50-run partnership of the innings off 37 deliveries as well.
Afif laced his knock with seven boundaries and three sixes while Sohan smashed two boundaries and as many sixes to push Bangladesh to the total with an unbeaten 71-run partnership.