DELHI - Mushfiqur Rahim’s perfectly paced, unbeaten 60 off 43 balls took Bangladesh to a seven-wicket win over India, their first against these opponents in nine attempts. Mushfiqur’s late charge against Khaleel Ahmed completely changed the game in Delhi, so much so that in the end, the result was almost a formality. The 1-0 lead in the three-match series will also be a massive boost to a team that has been reeling after Shakib Al Hasan was banned by the ICC last week for failing to report bookie approaches, not to mention the tensions created by the players’ strike against the BCB.
Mushfiqur employed the pull shot, a scoop, and two scythes through point to reduce Bangladesh’s chase from 20 off ten balls to a mere four from the last over. Khaleel was the bowler who bore the brunt of Mushfiqur’s calculated hits, which came quite late despite him being well set up until that point. In the end, it was a masterstroke to hold back his shots as Bangladesh savoured their big moment.
The debutant Shivam Dube was handed the ball in the last over, his medium pace an interesting choice given the history between these two sides and last-over finishes. Dube was ineffective as Mahmudullah ran hard to complete two runs off the second ball before getting a wide and then hammering one over wide long-on for six. India could have done better to avoid defeat, notably when Mushfiqur slog-swept a ball in the 18th over to deep midwicket and Krunal Pandya not only dropped the catch but let it go for four.
When India batted first, Rohit Sharma was trapped lbw in the first over by a Shafiul Islam delivery that moved back in slightly. The home side’s rhythm was further dented when KL Rahul bunted legspinner Aminul Islam’s half-tracker to Mahmudullah at short cover. Shreyas Iyer pushed the run rate but he too fell to Aminul, mistiming a lofted drive, having struck a four and two sixes in his 13-ball 22. At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan struggled to score quickly before Rishabh Pant’s poor call for a second run cost him his wicket. Dhawan top-scored with 41, but it came off 42 balls.
Afif Hossain then leapt high to complete a fine return catch to dismiss Dube before Pant fell trying to clear long-on, having made 27 off 26 balls. At 120 for 6 with ten balls left in the innings, India got the perfect boost as Krunal and Washington Sundar cobbled together 28 runs. Washington struck two sixes while Pandya struck a four and a six off the last ball of the innings. Mahmudullah’s choice to give Shafiul and Al-Amin Hossain those crucial overs ahead of Mustafizur Rahman may well be questioned, but perhaps he was wary of the number of left-handers in India’s line-up.
Without a left-arm spinner in a T20I line-up for the first time, Mahmudullah used legspinner Aminul and offspinner Afif intelligently, the two youngsters combining to return figures of 3 for 33 in six overs. With Liton Das falling in the first over of the chase, the pressure was on Mohammad Naim, the debutant left-hand opener. He took a bit of time before flicking Deepak Chahar for a six over deep midwicket in the fifth over before driving him through the covers for four in the same over.
Soumya Sarkar then took on Washington with a reverse slog for six before smashing Khaleel for a four through the covers in the seventh over.
Naim fell in the eighth over when Yuzvendra Chahal had him caught at long-on, having made 26 off 28 balls. With Naim’s wicket, Chahal hit his stride in his next over and had Mushfiqur in a tangle. After a perfect legbreak, Chahal rushed one on to the batsman’s pads before nearly having him out lbw. Mushfiqur managed to take a single but Soumya too had a tough time getting Chahal away. The over ended with just one run conceded as India began to look dominant.
From this point and until the start of the penultimate over, it looked like Mushfiqur had messed up his calculations trying to manoeuvre India’s bowling on a slow, turning pitch. But he trusted his plans and as a result, Bangladesh walked away happily from the Kotla with a win under their belt.