Afif's all-round performance rescues Bangladesh from a Malaysia scare, while Naib and Qais eliminate Sri Lanka.

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Afif’s all-round performance rescues Bangladesh from a Malaysia scare, while Naib and Qais eliminate Sri Lanka.

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Bangladesh secured a nail-biting victory over Malaysia by just two runs, thanks to an outstanding all-round performance by Afif Hossain. This win solidified their spot in the semi-finals against India at the Asian Games. Despite Malaysia needing only five runs in the final over with Virandeep Singh batting at an impressive 52 off 35 balls, Afif kept his composure, allowing only two runs and preventing the upset.

Afif’s tactical bowling in the last over frustrated Virandeep, who attempted to break free but ended up getting caught at long-on. Afif closed the contest with two well-executed yorkers, securing Bangladesh’s narrow win.

Malaysia’s chase of 117 had a rocky start, losing three wickets for just 18 runs, with Afif contributing to the early breakthroughs. However, Virandeep formed crucial partnerships, first adding 34 runs for the fifth wicket with Vijay Unni and then 40 runs for the seventh wicket with wicketkeeper-batter Ainool Hafizs. Unfortunately for Malaysia, they stumbled in the final over, falling short of the target.

In their innings, Bangladesh faced early setbacks, finding themselves at three down within the first three overs. Afif, however, played a pivotal role, scoring 23 runs off 14 balls, including two fours and two sixes. He partnered with captain Saif Hassan to add 38 runs in just four overs. Saif Hassan anchored the innings with a steady half-century, scoring 50 runs off 52 balls. The pitch had significantly slowed down after the previous game between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan earlier in the day. Despite Pavandeep Singh taking two wickets for Malaysia, Bangladesh managed to reach 116, a total that ultimately proved sufficient for victory.

Credit By espncricinfo.com

In another match, Afghanistan advanced to the semi-finals by defeating an inexperienced Sri Lanka side. On a slow-turning pitch, Noor Ali Zadran played a crucial role with a steady fifty, while Qais Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib each took three wickets to seal Sri Lanka’s fate. Sri Lanka had nine debutants in their team.

Sri Lanka chose to field and made an early breakthrough when Nuwan Thushara dismissed Sediqullah Atal in the seventh ball of the match. Noor Ali Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad struggled against left-arm spinner Nimesh Vimukthi but managed to put together a 54-run partnership for the second wicket. After Shahzad’s dismissal, Shahidullah contributed a quick 23 runs off 14 balls. However, a collapse followed, and Afghanistan was bowled out for 116, with Thushara finishing with figures of 4 for 17.

Sri Lanka had a promising start, with Lasith Croospulle hitting Gulbadin Naib for a four and a six in the second over, which yielded 11 runs. Despite Croospulle’s early dismissal, Sri Lanka reached 59 for 3 by the end of the ninth over. However, Qais Ahmad turned the game around with a two-wicket over, dismissing Ashen Bandara and Lahiru Udara. Captain Sahan Arachchige fought hard with his 22 off 29 balls, and Vijayakanth Viyaskanth provided late hope. However, Karim Janat removed Thushara in the final over to secure Afghanistan’s victory.

Reference

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/asian-games-2023-afghanistan-and-bangladesh-qualify-for-semi-finals-1401000

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