Life came a full circle for Mushfiqur Rahim as he scored a match-winning 60* to bury the ghosts of the last encounter between the two sides played in India. The duo of Rahim and skipper Mahmudullah, who failed to close the game down in 2016, remained unbeaten until the end to register their first-ever T20I victory over India.
Set a tricky target of 149 on a slow wicket, Rahim stitched a crucial 60-run third-wicket partnership with Soumya Sarkar at first and then hit Khaleel Ahmed for four consecutive boundaries in the 19th over to bring Bangladesh on the brink. Mahmudullah hit the debutant Shivam Dube for a six in the last over to close the game.
In what was building out to be yet another nail-biting encounter between the two neighbours, Bangladesh needed 35 off the last three overs when the balance decisively shifted in their favour in space of 10 balls.
One of the best fielders in the Indian team, Krunal Pandya, dropped an easy chance of Mushfiqur at deep-midwicket on the third ball of the 18th over as the batsman mistimed a slog sweep off India’s best bowler on the day, Yuzvendra Chahal. Mahmudullah then hit the last ball of the over inside out for a boundary to reduce the target to 22 off two overs. India’s decision to rest all their main fast bowlers backfired when Mushfiqur made most of the chance offered and blew away Khaleel in the 19th over.
Earlier in the day, India lost Rohit in the first over who perished after hitting two crisp boundaries. In at three in the absence of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul joined Shikhar Dhawan as the duo laboured to 26 runs in the next 33 balls. The pair, taken aback by the slow nature of the wicket, largely batted within themselves as India fell behind in the powerplay.
The young Bangladeshi pacers in Shafiul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain and the experienced Mustafizur Rahman used the pace of the wicket well to unleash variations that did not allow the Indian top-order to score freely. After Rahul surrendered to the conditions to offer a dolly at short-cover, Shreyas Iyer’s innings fueled the Indian ship. Starting with a mistimed slog, Iyer made his intentions very clear as he hit the next ball inside out for six and then one in the next over of the rookie leg-spinner Aminul Islam down the ground for another maximum.
Living by the sword and dying by it, Iyer was caught at long-off as he attempted another big hit. With pressure mounting on his position in the team, Rishabh Pant played with caution. While he and Dhawan play together for their state and the IPL side, the lack of communication between them while running was outlandish. Having caught ball watching on two previous occasions, the duo made a fatal judgement of turning for a couple with the ball inside the thirty-yard circle. With not enough time to turn back and reach the crease, Dhawan’s stroll of 42 ball 41 ended.
As the Dube and Pant failed to provide the death over impetus, all-rounders Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya added 30 of the last two overs. Sundar pulled one in the 19th over and lifted a slower ball elegantly with a straight bat in 20th to smash two sixes while Krunal, who enjoyed the day with only bat in hand, pulled the last ball of the innings for a six to give the hosts a respectable total.
Unlike India, Bangladesh made full use of the powerplay despite losing an early wicket. The batsman with the best strike-rate in the Bangladesh side, Liton Das perished in the first over. The debutant Mohammad Naim and Sarkar threw caution to the wind as they unleashed a flick and a reverse sweep respectively to score 25 of the last two overs of the field restriction.
Chahal bowled a string of googlies in his first over as Naim was hold out at long-on. As Chahal continued to trouble the batsmen, Rahim, in at four, drew out a series of sweeps and reverse sweeps to counter Krunal, who had an off day with the ball on a pitch that assisted all the other spinners.
Pant’s hyperactivity behind the stumps proved costly as India failed to judge the bowls trajectory and hence did not review two LBW calls against Mushfiqur, who seemed to have used a large quota of his luck on a single day.
While Sarkar’s wicket on the last ball of the 17th over raised India’s chances, they could only flaunt a wry smile at the beginning of the last over that was handed to the debutant.
With everything to play for in the three-match series now, one can expect India to tighten up for the rest of the matches. For Bangladesh, one more good day can earn them a historic achievement and lessen the pain felt across the nation currently.