Spinner Rashid Khan celebrated his 20th birthday in style by producing a stunning all-round display as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by 136 runs in an Asia Cup match in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Rashid smashed an unbeaten 57 off just 32 balls in a superb counter-attacking batting display to rally Afghanistan to a competitive 255 for seven after opting to bat. He and Gulbadin Naib (42 not out) stitched 95 runs for the unconquered eighth wicket as they rained boundaries towards the end of their innings.
On the back of their late batting pyrotechnics, Afghanistan scored 97 runs from the final 10 overs and that made the difference in the fate of the match which, however, was rendered inconsequential as both sides have already made it to the Super Four stage from Group B.
Later, Rashid showed why he is considered a premier spinner in the world by taking two crucial wickets, that of Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah, the two most experienced players in the Bangladesh side in the absence of the likes of previous match centurion Mushfiqur Rahim.
Shakib Al Hasan (32) and Mahmudullah (27) were the top-scorers for Bangladesh and Rashid claimed their wickets with two gems of deliveries to break the backbone of their run chase. Bangladesh eventually were bowled out for just 119 in 42.1 overs.
Afghanistan will enter the Super Four stage with confidence after having won both their group matches. They play Pakistan at the same venue on Friday.
Chasing 256 for a win on a slow surface, Bangladesh struggled from the very beginning with two wickets falling inside five overs and runs hard to come by.
Nazmul Hossain Shanto (7), who made ODI debut Thursday, offered a leading edge to point fielder Aftab Alam of the bowling of off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the fourth over.
The next over, pacer Aftab Alam trapped Liton Das (6) leg before wicket with an incoming delivery to reduce Bangladesh to 17 for two.
At the end of 10 overs, Bangladesh were struggling on 31 for two as Afghanistan's bowlers came up with a disciplined performance with the new ball.
The first boundary for Bangladesh came in the 15th over, and infact, the whole of the Bangladesh innings contained just five boundaries.
Rashid was introduced in the 22nd over and soon he broke the partnership between the experienced duo of Shakib and Mahmudullah in his second over itself. Shakib was late to bring his bat down and was trapped leg before wicket for 55-ball 32, without hitting a single boundary.
Earlier, Rashid Khan smashed a superb unbeaten half-century to lead Afghanistan's stunning fightback in the final overs.
Rashid slammed 57 not out from 32 balls, putting on an unbroken stand of 95 runs from 55 balls for eighth wicket with Gulbadin Naib, who was unbeaten on 42 from 38 balls.
Opting to bat, Afghanistan were initially struggling against a disciplined Bangladesh bowling attack led by veteran left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, who grabbed four wickets for 42 runs, but Rashid and Naib turned the tables in the final 10 overs.
The duo added 97 runs in the final 10 overs with a flurry of boundaries which undid all the earlier good work by the Bangladeshi bowlers and rescue Afghanistan, who were reeling on 160 for seven in the 41st over.
Rashid hit eight fours and one six in his 32-ball unbeaten innings to turn the innings on it's head in the final overs.
Rashid, who turned 20 on Thursday, hit four boundaries in the final over bowled by Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
Hashmatullah Shahidi had rallied the Afghans with a fighting 92-ball 58 after his side were reduced to 28 for two in the sixth over itself.
The wickets fell around Shahidi with only opener Mohammad Shahzad (37), with whom he stitched 51 runs for the third wicket, making some contribution.
Debutant pacer Abu Hider (2/50) opened the bowling for Bangladesh and he got his first ODI wicket in his fourth delivery. Afghanistan opener Ihsanullah (8) hit two consecutive fours before he was caught by Mohammad Mithun at cover region.
Abu Hider had his second wicket in the sixth over as Rahmat Shah was bowled for 10.
Shahidi and Shahzad steadied the innings before Shakib dismissed the later, who was caught by Abu Hider at long-on.
Afghanistan crossed the 100 mark exactly at the halfway stage before Shakib struck again as he bowled Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan for eight.
Shakib added another wicket to his kitty in the 34th over by having Samiullah Shenwari dismissed for 18 to reduce Afghanistan to 239 for five.
At 160 for seven in the 41st over, it seemed that Afghanistan would struggle to even reach 200 before Rashid and Naib turned things in style in the death overs.