An evident pattern surrounded Oman today, with both the skippers on the day winning and opting to bowl first. While the first game gave away why bowling first was key, Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah did not hesitate to follow the same path.
Bowling first, Bangladesh’s pacers were on spot against the free-flowing openers from Scotland. George Munsey, who in the shortest format has scored 600 runs in the last two years, at a strike-rate of 161.3, had an indifferent start. After the first two overs, Scotland were at 5/0, with the Bangladesh pacers Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman bowling well in tandem.
Mohammad Saifuddin, who was picked as the third pace option, came on from the other end and immediately benefitted from the pressure applied by the other bowlers. Of his fourth delivery, the speedster yorked Kyle Coetzer, who was making room to slap the ball to the off-side ended up exposing his stumps.
Against Taskin Ahmed however, Munsey finally found the length to swing his arm, with a six on the leg-side, after Shakib Al Hasan’s valiant efforts in the deep boundary, which took Scotland to 16/1 after the first four overs.
In the last over of the powerplay, Scotland maximised the field restrictions, with 13 runs off Mustafizur Rahman, as Munsey found his groove, with 18-ball 26 as they raced to 39/1 after six.
Spin troubles for Scotland
Shakib Al Hasan’s introduction slowed down Scotland’s run-rate before Mahmudullah got Mahedi Hasan from the other end. The pacy spinner, off his second ball, trapped the dangerous Matthew Cross in front the stumps.
One brought another as Hasan skidded the ball past Munsey’s swinging bat, to leave Scotland reeling at 47/3. While the experience of Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington were expected to steer the ship to safety, they only sunk more. In the span of three deliveries, Shakib sent Berrington and Michael Leask back to the hut, going past Lasith Malinga’s all-time T20I record, with 108 wickets.
MacLeod didn’t see the light of the day too much as he was undone by a quick ripper from Hasan, with the Bangladesh spinners picked up five wickets in between them at that point. Scotland slipped from 44/1 to 53/6, in the span of five overs.
Chris Greaves and Mark Watt do the unthinkable
Having been reduced to 53/6, there was no way one could have predicted that Scotland would get to any sort of substantial total. But that’s where Chris Greaves proved everyone wrong. The right-hander was not any other figure but he was the most influential batter for the European side on the night.
"We were in a tough situation obviously and it doesn't always go that way. It was just to rebuild the innings at that stage and see where we could go from there. I was happy to be that person. With the score on the board, you've got something to bowl at. I think once we got that total on the board with our bowling lineup, we'll back it," Greaves said at the post-match presentation.
"It was a great great game. It was my day I think today. It will be many other days that any one of us in that squad will be a part of. I'm just glad I could contribute in the way I did. Incredible. There's so many words. Just really enjoying it and taking one day at a time. Hopefully many more days like this to come."
First Greaves took the attack to Afif Hossain, with a reverse sweep before he reverse pulled Mahedi Hasan to the boundary. Even the re-introduction of Mustafizur didn’t help the Tigers, as Watt swatted the ball over the fielder for another boundary. At the end of the 16th over, Scotland found themselves on 96/6, a total that was still under-par.
But the two set batsmen ensured that they went all-out, scoring 53 runs in the last five overs, including 21 runs off the last two overs of the innings. Although Greaves fell short of his half-century, with a 28-ball 45, the late blow from Josh Davey and Safyaan Sharif (8 off 2 balls) ensured that Scotland posted a challenging total of 140.
Scotland make Bangladesh sweat
Chasing 141, Bangladesh openers, Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das got off to a flying start, with a boundary in the very first over. However, in an attempt to find the boundary yet again, Sarkar found the only fielder at the deep midwicket boundary, as he walked back for a five-ball five with Josh Davey striking early for Scotland.
Brad Wheal then caught Liton Das out of place, as the Bangladesh opener handed the ball straight to the mid-off fielder George Munsey, as they were reduced to 19/2, in 3.3. At the end of the powerplay, the two experienced batters – Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim – took Bangladesh to safety, at 25/2.
However, against Michael Leask in the ninth over of the innings, Rahim went berserk, with two sixes off two deliveries, picking up 18 crucial runs off the ninth over. Bangladesh still needed 89 runs off the last 11 overs to surmount the Scotland total. The pair that has been one of the best in business for the Tigers but Chris Greaves with his leg-spin turned the game back in Scotland’s favour.
The leg-spinner with a rank short-delivery sent Bangladesh’s leading run-scorer in T20Is, Shakib back to the hut. In his next over, he put Mushfiqur in a spot of bother, as the wicketkeeper-batsman tangled himself to walk back to the dressing room, as they were reduced to 74/4.
Mahmadullah and the mountain-like target
Afif Hossain joined skipper Mahmudullah as they needed 61 runs from the last six overs. The duo combined to bring Bangladesh closer to a win, with 24 runs in the next three overs, as the skipper targeted Davey. Watt then brought Afif’s downfall as the pressure mounted on the Bangladesh all-rounder to take the team home.
With 32 runs needed from the last two overs, Wheal sent Nurul back with a perfect delivery. Even though Mahmudullah slapped a delivery beyond the ropes, the Scotland pacer had the last laugh, with MacLoed picking up his second catch of the over.
An uphill task of 24 runs from the last over turned out to be just too many runs and too few deliveries for Bangladesh as they eventually fell short of Scotland’s target by six runs.
Brief Scores: Scotland (Chris Greaves 45, George Munsey 29; Mahedi Hasan 3/19, Shakib Al Hasan 2/17) beat Bangladesh (Mushfiqur Rahim 38, Mahmudullah 23; Brad Wheal 3/24, Chris Greaves 2/19) by six runs
Player of the Match: Chris Greaves (45 off 28 and 2/19)