Sport Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2019-09-21 22:30:30 BdST
He smashed an unbeaten 70-run innings at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Saturday to lead the Tigers reach the target of 139 runs for the victory with an over remaining.
Shakib confidently dragged the team towards the target, but the equation for a victory was tough for Bangladesh as the hosts continued losing wickets in quick successions.
They needed 27 runs in the last 3 overs, with 2 more overs of Rashid Khan remaining after the young Afghan captain took 2 wickets in his previous 2 overs.
But in the 18th over, Rashid conceded 18 runs as Mosaddek Hossain (19 off 12) partnered with Shakib to seal the victory in the next over.
With the other side Zimbabwe already out, the dead rubber was crucial for both Bangladesh and Afghanistan ahead of Tuesday’s final match.
Having their run of consecutive T20I wins finally ended at 12 by Zimbabwe on Friday, Afghanistan were out to extend their hold on Bangladesh.
The hosts have now regained confidence, finishing the league stage on top despite the loss to Afghanistan in their previous face-off in the series.
Shakib finding the flow again with the bat is the best thing for the Tigers before the final clash with their South Asian neighbours as the cricket rivalry between the two teams grows.
The all-rounder hit eight boundaries and one over-boundary in the 45-ball innings.
Opting to field first after winning the toss, Bangladesh were in much trouble when Afghanistan put 70 runs on the scoreboard without any loss.
The visitors were eyeing a huge total at the time, but Afif Hossain, whose breathtaking fifty fired Bangladesh to an improbable win over Zimbabwe, shone with the ball against Afghanistan.
The all-rounder got the breakthrough by taking the crucial wicket of Afghanistan’s top-scorer Hazratullah Zazai (47 off 35) in the third ball of the 10th over.
The youngster struck again after another ball, this time sending back Asghar Afghan and leaving the tourists on 75 for 2.
Mustafizur Rahman hit in the 11th over, claiming the wicket of the other opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz (29 off 27).
Afghanistan could not turn around afterwards, but a 24-run unbroken partnership between Shafiqullah and Rashid helped them post the total of 138.
It seemed very challenging, sometimes improbable, when Bangladesh lost both openers within 5 overs.
Veteran Mushfiqur Rahim (26 off 25) then assisted Shakib in a 58-run partnership to steady the innings.
With Mushfiqur also gone in the 11th over, the task appeared to be a mammoth one for a lonely Shakib who saw his partners Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman and Afif losing their wickets one after another.
Finally, he found support in Mosaddek and confirmed that the Tigers are going into the final match victoriously.