Bangladesh vs. Afghanistan: Tournament Opener Proves Importance of Spinners

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2014

Bangladesh's bowler Shakib Al Hasan, second from left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Afghanistan's batsman Najibullah Taraki during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup opening match in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, March 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

Hosts Bangladesh easily saw off Afghanistan in the opening game of the World Twenty20 in Mirpur on Sunday, March 16, cruising to a nine-wicket win.

They managed to restrict the Afghans to a total of just 72 and chased it down with six overs to spare for the loss of only one wicket, with Anamul Haque top-scoring with a 33-ball 44 in front of 25,000 fans. 

But it was the spin bowlers, especially Shakib Al Hasan with figures of 3-8 off 3.1 overs, who set the stage for the emphatic win.

Along with Shakib, Abdur Razzak took the key wickets of Mohammad Nabi and Samiullah Shenwari with his left-arm spin.

Meanwhile, Mahmudullah bowled the most economical completed spell in T20s for Bangladesh, finishing with figures of 8-1 off four overs, per ESPNcricinfo.

Speaking after the game, Shakib highlighted the role of the pitch, as reported by AFP:

There was obviously spin out there. We put the ball in the right areas and that did the trick for us. This is usually a good track, but today it was different.

While Bangladesh will take a lot away from this win as they look to qualify for the Super 10 stage, all the other teams in the competition will also take note of the influence that spin bowling will likely have in the competition.

The shortest form of the game is often viewed as a batsman's game, but slow bowling is often influential during games—and it will be in Bangladesh.

The sub-continent conditions will play into the hands of slow bowlers, and batsmen would do well to prepare for an onslaught of spin.

Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

As reported by the Hindustan Times, former India spinner Venkatapathy Raju said: "In this format, and especially in sub-continent conditions, teams will depend on spinners to deliver crucial breakthroughs and also keep a control on the run flow"

Bangladesh certainly showed on Sunday how effective spinners can be in T20 matches.

The reason slow bowling is so effective is because the big hitters cannot use the pace of the ball to smash it out of the park. 

A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

Intelligent spin bowling, using varied pace and length, can tie up even the best T20 batsmen.

Where a fast bowler may concede four runs to a streaky edge, a spinner will not.

In Sunday's other game, Nepal thrashed Hong Kong by 80 runs. Six of the Hong Kong wickets fell to spin.

There are certainly the stats to back up the danger of spin in T20. 

Spinners make up six of the top eight best economy rates at World T20 tournaments, while Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis tops the list for the tournament's best average with 13.48, per ESPNcricinfo.

Bearing in mind that the previous hosts of this competition are Sri Lanka, West Indies, England and South Africa, spinners are likely to be equally, if not more, effective in Bangladesh.

The likes of Pakistan, India and the West Indies are all in with a shot of winning the tournament, and spinners from these nations make up six of the top 10 T20 bowlers, per ICC rankings.

The opening game of this tournament has only further highlighted the key influence that spin bowling will have on the outcome of this tournament.