Afghanistan’s wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad (R) and Shapoor Zadran celebrate after winning their Asia Cup match against Bangladesh in Fatullah. (AP Photo)
The jigs were set in motion on the turf of the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali stadium as prelude to the grand Saturday night party Afghanistan were gearing up for. In just their fourth ODI against a Test playing nation, the first victory has been achieved.
After being handed ODI status in 2009, Afghanistan's brush with the Test nations was restricted to matches against Australia and Pakistan. On Thursday, they faltered against Pakistan after intimidating them in flashes.
On Saturday, they nailed hosts Bangladesh in a match that swung from one extreme to another. Afghanistan created history with a 32-run triumph.
It will be premature to say Afghanistan have arrived. But that they have hinted at a strong assurance of their imminent arrival cannot be denied.
Afghanistan may not have the MS Dhonis and the AB de Villiers in the middle-order to snatch the game away from the opposition, but they have their very own Asghar Stanikzai and Shamiullah Shenwari who played similar roles. In rearguard action that floored Bangladesh, Stanikzai and Shamiullah reconstructed the innings before launching an unthinkable assault.
Coming in at 90/5 and Bangladesh staring at a bonus-point victory, the duo refrained from taking any chances. The next seven overs, sans a boundary, only cost 23 runs.
Shenwari's cut past point off the left-arm spin of Abdur Razzak was as good as most in the game.
Similarly, Stanikzai's hit off Rubel Hossain's medium pace for a six over long on to bring up his half-century was a statement. The last 10 overs cost Bangladesh 107.
With the job not over, a strong start from the impressive Afghani pacers was essential.
Left-arm pacer Shahpoor Zadran's ball pitched on off and straightened to knock Shamsur Rahman's stumps out. Hamid Hassan trapped Animul Haque in front with pace to leave Bangladesh two down for just a run.
With the home team 165/8, Afghanistan could have wrapped things up fast if they held on to the catches. Missed chances prolonged the match.