Header Ads

Mushfiqur special powers Bangladesh to record run-chase

Not until the last three balls of the chase were Bangladesh ahead in the tussle.
Not until the last three balls of the chase were Bangladesh ahead in the tussle. © AFP
On Saturday, at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Bangladesh displayed every attribute that has come to be associated with their cricket - the over-zealousness, fearlessness, the logic-defying gallery play, the gumption, the premature celebration and the letting loose of emotions. Amidst all that, a baby-faced veteran - Mushfiqur Rahim - limped his way to carry his side to their record run-chase, against Sri Lanka.
Not until the last three balls of the chase were Bangladesh ahead in the tussle. A poor tactical call to leave the infield on the leg side open allowed Rahim to nudge a good length delivery on the stumps for a single and roar his way at the face of Thisara Perera, the bowler, and break into a dance. The team in the dugout ran on to the pitch and went wild in their celebration. It didn't matter that it was only a league game. It was a game where Bangladesh were literally playing the chase all along, only to jump over the hurdle at the last moment.
Winning the toss, Mahmudullah elected to bowl. His belief was that the drizzle through the day would have made the wicket a little slow, bringing his spinners into good use. A threat of more showers through the game only strengthened his belief further. Dinesh Chandimal, Sri Lanka's captain, didn't mind that one bit. They wanted to bat anyway, post a big total and put the opposition under pressure. They got all of that done, but Bangladesh thrived under that pressure.
Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka provided them with a solid start. The plan of Bangladesh's pace trio - Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain - to do them in with short-pitched stuff backfired. But before they could retreat to Plan B, the openers had amassed 56 runs for the opening wicket in only 27 balls.
Gunathilaka was undone by Mustafizur's off-cutter, inside edging a drive on to the stumps. However, Mendis gave a good account of himself, repaying the faith of the selectors for persisting with him. His clean hitting had began Sri Lanka's blitz right from the first over and it never really came to a halt. After the powerplay, he struggled a bit against Mehidy Hasan, but that was only for a brief while. In company of Kusal Perera, he added another quickfire half century stand.
Perera continued to play his fearless brand of cricket, unleashing the reverse sweep in abundance. He wasn't middling the ball as well as he had done against India in the previous game, but was aided by the edges running away for boundaries. He stroked his way to a second consecutive fifty with a loft straight over the bowler's head for a boundary.
The carnage by Mendis and Perera left Mahmudullah short of options. To break the flow of their partnership, he first went back to Mustafizur. But, to no avail. He then tried bringing on part-timer Soumya Sarkar. Yet again, to no avail. Runs were coming at more than 10 an over. And eventually, in the 14th over, he decided to try his luck by bringing himself on. In one over, he got two wickets, dismissing both Mendis and Dasun Shanaka.
While the rest of the fielders were a bit out of place, especially with their throws and back-ups, Sabbir held his own. In the next over, he took his third catch of the day, diving forward at deep extra cover to send back Dinesh Chandimal. But even as three wickets fell in quick succession, Bangladesh couldn't break the flow of Sri Lanka's innings. The hosts were further aided by some erratic bowling. Not only were Rubel and Taskin all over the place with their line and lengths, Bangladesh conceded 12 wides and a no-ball.
Perera continued his carnage and was aided by Upal Tharanga, who stroked four boundaries and a six late in the innings to power Sri Lanka past the 200-run mark. At 214 for 6, they had registered their highest score at the venue and their highest total against Bangladesh. None of the Bangladesh bowlers, barring Mahmudullah, had conceded less than 10 runs an over.
At the innings break, Sri Lanka believed their total was good enough and rightly so, but what they hadn't accounted for was the sustained aggression that Bangladesh would apply.
Bangladesh had come in with an unchanged side, and thus they had only six frontline batsmen to play. Just like the previous game, their ploy was simple - all-out attack. It worked for them on Saturday, given the ball was coming at a good pace for the batsmen to play their shots. The move to promote Liton Das as an opener worked wonders. The wicketkeeper smashed five sixes in his 19-ball 43 to help Bangladesh to a fiery start. They amassed 74 runs in the powerplay, with Liton departing in the penultimate ball of the period.
Tamim Iqbal, his opening partner, however continued the attack. It was a crucial phase in which Bangladesh couldn't have afforded to let the initiative slip away, especially with Soumya Sarkar finding it tough to middle the balls.
Tamim's power-packed innings came to an abrupt and soft end as he gave an easy return catch to Thisara Perera. The mantle of taking the chase forward was then handed to Mushfiqur Rahim, who then scripted it with the well-calculated precision.
Sarkar, who was struggling in the middle for long, seemed to have finally found his groove in the 14th over when he hit Dushmantha Chameera for a six straight down the ground. However, that period in the groove was short-lived as he fell in the next over.
Meanwhile, Mushfiqur unleashed his array of strokes - the pick-ups shots, the power drives and the scoops to smartly manipulate the field and get quick runs. The turning point, however, came in the 16th over.
Thisara Perera had cleverly deceived Mahmudullah to concede only seven off the first five balls. The fifth of those was a bouncer which didn't quite impress the batsman. He expected the umpire to signal it a wide and let his frustration known. His anger needed an outlet and standing deep inside the crease, he tonked the next ball, a waist-high full toss, for a massive six. Gifted a free hit, he sent the next ball for a boundary.
The chase closed in with 20 needed off 15 balls, when - not for the first time - Mahmudullah went for a rash shot to clear the fence and holed out to the fielder at deep mid wicket. With very little batting to follow and a hobbling Mushfiqur at the other end, the situation demanded more rational play. It didn't come from the captain for sure.
Sabbir Rahman, the last of the recognised batsman, didn't last long, sacrificing his wicket away to give Mushfiqur the strike under the pressure of an ever-mounting run-rate.
Mushfiqur continued to find gaps on the field and get the crucial boundaries. The last of those came when he stretched wide of his off stump to send the ball past the boundary line in the final over and bring the equation down to 3 from 4 balls. Players in the dugout celebrated wildly; the scenes were as if they had won the game. But Mushfiqur, from past experiences, would've known better. He kept a check on his emotions till the time the job was done. And he did it mighty fine before breaking into a cobra-dance.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 214/6 in 20 overs (Kusal Perera 74, Kusal Mendis 57; Mustafizur Rahman 3-48, Mahmudullah 2-15) lost to Sri Lanka 215/5 in 19.4 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 72*Tamim Iqbal 47; Nuwan Pradeep 2-47, Thisara Perera 1-36) by 5 wickets

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    This is Harvey and I am contacting you on behalf of Media Top, online media agency.

    I came across your website and would be interested in collaborating with you, in exchange for a set fee, to write and post an article on your site https://www.cricmark.com/. The written piece will follow the same style and layout to other articles on your site and be an added value.

    Please let me know if this is of interest to you and I will be able to send you more information.

    Hoping to hear your positive response. Please feel free to contact me on harvey.kayne@gmail.com if interested.

    ReplyDelete