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Mehidy, Afif seal stunning come-from-behind win

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Mehidy Hasan and Afif Hossain not only saved Bangladesh but also helped the side seal a come-from-behind win in the opening ODI against Afghanistan. Chasing 215, the pair forged a 174-run stand to help the hosts scale the target in 48.5 overs and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

At the innings break, Mehidy was confident of an easy chase on a good batting track. What followed, however, was a nightmare. Fazalhaq Farooqi, playing just his second ODI, left Bangladesh reeling at 18 for 4 by the end of the fifth over to give Afghanistan hope of pulling off a win. Farooqi started the opening over with three dot balls but was crashed for three boundaries on the remaining three.

In his second over, he dismissed both openers - Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das - in space of three balls to provide Afghanistan the much-needed early breakthrough. Farooqi's thrid over also brought two more wickets as Afghanistan quickly pinned Bangladesh on the mat. Mujeeb Ur Rahman dismissed Shakib al Hasan while Rashid Khan had Mahmudullah as Bangladesh slipped to 45 for 6.

The plan for the pair was simple - keep Rashid Khan at bay and try and target other bowlers. They took 15 against Yamin Ahmadzai in the 17th over and took the side past 100 in the 22nd. The 100-run partnership came up in the 35th over as both batters built it brick by brick. Mehidy got his second ODI half-century in the next over and brought down the equation to 49 off the last ten overs.

At that stage, it was either Rashid or bust for Afghanistan. The legspinner bowled out his ten overs for 30 and had just one wicket to show for. Farooqi too came in for some late punishment and was struck for two boundaries in the 46th to help the pair raise their 150-run stand.

Earlier, Rahmanullah Gurbaz was nipped out by Mustafizur Rahman in the third over before Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah shared a 45-run stand for the second wicket to get the innings going. Shoriful Islam broke the promising stand with the wicket of Ibrahim while Shah followed soon after struggling his way to 34 off 69 and struck them at less than 50.

When Hashmatullah Shahidi fell, Afghanistan were in danger of folding for a paltry total with the scorecard reading 102 for 4. Mohammad Nabi then collaborated with Najibullah to stitch a run-a-ball 63-run stand to prop up the side. The former captain looked fluent during his knock of 20 off 24 but Taskin Ahmed ended his stay in the 39th over.

When Nabi fell, Afghanistan had just crossed 160 and were desperate for a big finish. With Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan to follow, the onus was on them to rally around Najibullah and take the side forward. That's when Shakib, probably, turned the game in Bangladesh's favour. He had Naib lbw and then handed a three-ball duck to Rashid to leave Afghanistan reeling at 194 for 7.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 215 in 49.1 overs (Najibullah Zadran 67; Mustafizur Rahman 3-35) vs Bangladesh 219/6 in 48.5 overs (Atif Hossain 93*, Mehidy Hasan 81*; Fazalhaq Farooqi 4-54) by four wickets.

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