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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Mahmudullah: Bangladesh top-order needs to improve ahead of Asia Cup clash with Pakistan

All-rounder was named man-of-the-match for his part in the victory over Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

Mahmudullah in action during his match-leading innings for Bangladesh against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup on Sunday. AFP
Mahmudullah in action during his match-leading innings for Bangladesh against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup on Sunday. AFP

Bangladesh “need to improve” their top-order batting if they are to beat Pakistan and take their place in the Asia Cup final, according to all-rounder Mahmudullah.

Bangladesh produced a thrilling three-run win over Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to set up a Super Four winner-takes-all contest with Pakistan. The winner of Wednesday’s clash at Zayed Cricket Stadium will take on India in the Asia Cup final.

Mahmudullah, who was named man-of-the-match against Afghanistan for his match-leading 74-run knock, is confident of Bangladesh’s chances of reaching Friday’s final in Dubai, although he believes there are areas his side need to work on.

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“Going into the next game, we still need to improve in some areas,” he said on Sunday. “Our batting, particularly at the top, hasn’t fired and that’s an area we need to improve before the next game.

“One of the reasons is we couldn’t do much was because of a very tight schedule. We had to play three games in four days in energy sapping conditions and also a lot of travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“We can start planning for Pakistan from now. We all know they are very good side and need to bring our A-game against them.”

Mahmudullah joined Imrul Kayes (72 not out) when Bangladesh were struggling at 87-5 in the 19th over. The pair added 128 runs in 164 balls for the sixth wicket to ultimately turn the game in Bangladesh’s favour.

“Our objective at that point was to bat as long as possible and to keep the scoreboard ticking, and I’m glad I was able to do that.”

Despite his star turn against Afghanistan on Sunday, which also included bowling figures of 1-17 from five overs, Mahmudullah, 32, credited his team’s bowling unit for delivering victory.

“It’s always good to win for the country especially when we had to comeback from a very difficult situation,” he said. “Our bowlers did very well to win this game for us. They had the Afghanistan batting always behind the required run-rate.

“They did a great job, especially Mustafizur [Rahman] when he had to bowl the last over to defend seven runs, and Mashrafe [Mortaza] because he had to bowl with a hamstring niggle.

“Mashrafe is our best bowler and provided us with two vital breaks. Mustafizur held his nerve to bowl the final over when Afghanistan required eight runs to win.”

Hashmatullah Shahidi, who top scored for Afghanistan with 71, was disappointed after his side lost a second tight match in three days having gone down to Pakistan in the final over on Friday.

“We lost the last two games in a close finish but we played well. However, luck wasn’t our way,” he said. “The target of 250 was achievable but we made some mistakes, instead of going for singles and doubles in the last few overs.”

Afghanistan conclude their Asia Cup campaign with a dead-rubber clash against India in Dubai on Tuesday, and Shahidi has said his side will aim to end the tournament on a high.

“We will try to do our best against them,” he said. “We’ll give them a good fight if not try and win this game.”