Mehedi, Shakib lead Tigers to thrilling win
It was edge-of-the-seat stuff at the end and it came against the backdrop of a low-scoring encounter as Bangladesh put their ODI mettle to use to seize victory from the jaws of defeat with a thrilling one-wicket win over India in the first of the three-match ODI series at Mirpur yesterday.
Spectators turned up in droves to the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, despite cricket having to take a backseat to the ongoing FIFA World Cup with fans staying up late to watch an Argentine win just the night before against Australia.
When the Tigers found themselves at 136 for nine, needing 51 runs with just a wicket left, and a mountain to climb, a majority of fans were on their way out.
But Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman had other ideas and, having seen their team fail so many times in tight contests, used their ODI mojo to good effect.
While Mehedi is considered a genuine lower-middle order batter, by all definitions Mustafizur is a genuine tail-ender. But that sheer impossibility somehow worked in Bangladesh's favour with the match firmly in India's grip.
Mustafizur, facing just his second delivery, punched an elegant cover drive off Mohammad Siraj for four but few would have imagined the scenario that was about to transpire.
Miraz remained unbeaten on 38 off 39, hitting the last delivery over cover to seize victory during an unbeaten 51-run stand. Fizz held up his end of the bargain, contributing 10 off 11 which also included a flicked four as India, having scalped nine wickets, found their nerves fraying in at the death.
The rub of the green came when Miraz whacked a Shardul Thakur delivery that stayed up in the night sky. By the time the ball dropped, wicket-keeper KL Rahul had run with his with his gloves on to fine leg-boundary. But he dropped a sitter.
That seemed to signal to the batters that it might just be their day and while the experienced duo of Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad failed to get the Tigers to what would have been an easy win, Miraz and Mustafizur prevailed under far more daunting circumstances.
Miraz, who hogged the strike despite Fizz's staunch determination to play deliveries to their merit, later divulged at a press conference what was being discussed during that unbelievable last-wicket stand.
"He [Fizz] told me not to worry about him but just to focus on my job," Miraz said. When the penny dropped, the Tigers found themselves on the right side and spectacularly.
Thus the performances of Shakib Al Hasan and Ebadot Hossain, who bagged a fifer and four-for to knock India out for 186, had to take a backseat.
KL Rahul's 73 was not enough in the end. Skipper for the series Liton had earlier struck 41 but left the job unfinished after a 48-run third-wicket stand. After Shakib's dismissal, Mushy-Mahmudullah departed off back-to-back-deliveries. Having lost their way so many times under tight situations, this time the Tigers prevail to take a 1-0 lead.