With four runs needed off the last ball, Ariful Haque swung Rashid Khan towards long-on. Were Bangladesh going to deny Afghanistan a 3-0 whitewash? Not quite. With two athletic interventions at the boundary, Shafiqullah prevented the ball from going over the boundary for six and then from rolling past it for four. Then the ball somehow made its way to the wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad before Bangladesh could complete the match-tying third run.
This wasn’t quite over, though. The third umpire was called in to see if Shafiqullah had stepped beyond the boundary when he flicked the ball back into the field of play. It was a matter of an inch, but he had not. Afghanistan had completed the perfect finish to the series, winning by one wicket and sealing a 3-0 scoreline.
The third T20 burst into life in the last two overs, which began with Bangladesh needing 30 to win. Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, who had put on Bangladesh’s only 50-plus stand of the series, knew the penultimate over was do-or-die as Rashid was due to bowl the last over.
Mushfiqur blasted Karim Janat over point and then pulled him and drove him through and over long-on to pick up four consecutive boundaries. It became five in a row when Mushfiqur brought out an inch-perfect reverse-sweep to bisect backward point and short third man. The 21-run over brought the equation down to nine runs off the last over, but it was against Rashid.
Mushfiqur fell off the first ball, caught at deep midwicket slog-sweeping, and neither Ariful nor Mahmudullah could find the boundary off the next four balls, leaving the newcomer on strike with four needed off the last ball. Ariful finally managed a meaty hit, but Shafiqullah ensured he would have the final word.
Bangladesh’s chase of 146 did not begin well. Tamim Iqbal’s quiet series ended with a catch driven to extra-cover in the third over, off Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Soumya Sarkar became the third Bangladesh No. 3 in three matches, and he promised much when he switch-hit Mujeeb for six in the fifth over. But in the space of four balls in the sixth over, Bangladesh were in tatters, Soumya and Liton Das run-out, one after another in near-identical fashion, both sprinting out too eagerly from the non-striker’s end when the batsman played Mohammad Nabi towards short fine leg.
Samiullah Shenwari then took a superb catch at cover to send back Shakib Al Hasan, leaving Bangladesh 53 for four in the ninth over.
Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah took control from that point, tackling Rashid, Mujeeb and Nabi sensibly and laying into the other bowlers. Mahmudullah pressed the accelerator in the 17th over, hitting Aftab Alam for a six and four, but then Rashid conceded just three runs in the next over, leaving Bangladesh with a very tough ask in the last two overs.
Having chosen to bat first, Afghanistan began with a bang – more accurately, three bangs – as Mohammad Shahzad struck Mehidy Hasan Miraz for two fours and a six over long-on in the first over. Shahzad hit one more four before falling to a poor decision in the eighth over, given out leg-before to Nazmul Islam even though he had gloved a reverse-sweep. Shahzad’s opening partner Usman Ghani fell in the next over for 19 off 26 balls, caught behind trying to pull Abu Jayed.
Asghar Stanikzai helped Bangladesh recover, hammering three sixes – two over long-on and one over cover – before falling to part-timer Ariful in the 13th over. Asghar made 27 off 17. Nabi’s dismissal in the 15th over, Mahmudullah taking a good diving catch at mid-off, was another crucial blow for Bangladesh but the in-form Samiullah Shenwari and Najibullah Zadran brought Afghanistan back with some big hits, taking a combined 26 off the 17th and 18th overs.
Just when a total in excess of 150 looked likely, Bangladesh pulled them back with spin as Shakib and Nazmul conceded only 10 off the last two overs. The two left-arm spinners finished with a combined 3 for 34 in their eight overs, while Jayed was also impressive, using the short ball well to finish with 2 for 27. (ESPNCricinfo)