Riding high from its victory over Sri Lanka yesterday, Bangladesh overcame a tough performance from Afghanistan to win by 5 wickets and thus take gold in the Asian Games Men's Cricket Tournament at Guangzhou, China.
Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat, but got off to a poor start. Opening batsman Mohammad Shahzad got out for a golden duck and his partner Mirwais Ashraf was caught and bowled by Nasir Hossain for just 6. Afghanistan were tottering at 22 for 2. Then there was a brief recovery staged by Karim Sadiq and Nawroz Mangal, but the latter went with the score at 37. The Afghanis fell further in to trouble, losing their fourth wicket for 49, their fifth for 64 and the sixth for 66. But latter-order batsmen Shabir Noori and Asghar Stanikzai took the challenge to the Bangladeshi bowlers and helped their side to a respectable 118/8 in their 20 overs. The Bangladeshi bowling was mainly tight. Naeem Islam stood out with figures of - 2 wickets, 1 maiden, 8 runs conceded in 3 overs.
The Bangladeshi innings got off to a more steady start. They lost one opener when the score was 17, but the other one Mithun Ali, went on to make a run-a-ball 22 before he was run out. Then on-down batsman Naeem Islam, held the middle order together while piling on a slow but steady 34 runs off 41 balls. There was a semi collapse when Bangladesh lost their fourth and fifth wickets for 71 and 75 runs respectively. But a late flourish from Shabbir Rahman saw his side home with 3 balls to spare.
It was a remarkable achievement for Bangladesh to snatch the gold, but Afghanistan who started the tournament as underdogs, also played exceptionally well upto the final and took a well-deserved silver. In the play-off for the third place earlier in the day, Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets to win the bronze medal.