Bangladesh 187 for 9 (Litton 41, Mehidy 38*, Siraj 3-32, Washington 2-17, Sen 2-37) beat India 186 (Rahul 73, Shakib 5-36, Ebadot 4-47) by one wicket
An astonishing, unbroken last-wicket stand of 51 between Mehidy Hasan Mirza and Mustafizur Rahman snatched victory from India in a low-scoring potboiler of endless plot twists at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, giving Bangladesh a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.
Bangladesh dominated large swathes of the game. They bundled India out for 186 on a tricky pitch courtesy Shakib Al Hasan’s guile and Ebadot Hossain’s short ball, which had combined for nine wickets after Litton Das had chosen to bowl on a pitch that he felt might be “a little sticky”. The stickiness persisted through the chase, but Bangladesh were well on course in the 35th over, with 59 needed off 91 balls with six wickets in hand, and with Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah at the crease.
Bangladesh dominated to that point, but they had no business winning the game after Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj and the debutant Kuldeep Sen combined to turn 128 for 4 to 136 for 9 in the space of 26 balls.
But Mehidy, their last recognised batter, was still at the crease, and Mustafizur, their No. 11, showed he’s a vastly improved presence in the lower order.
It was Mustafizur who kicked the partnership into gear, hitting Bangladesh’s first boundary in 105 balls with a punch through the covers off Siraj. Mehidy farmed the strike for most part thereafter, and went after the boundaries with nothing-to-lose abandon. He carved behind point, scooped to fine leg, punched, and pulled; and as the target neared, India’s fielding disintegrated.
KL Rahul – wicketkeeper in Rishabh Pant’s absence – ran all the way to deep backward square leg and put down a top-edged hook; Washington Sundar, at deep third, lost sight of a miscued uppercut and watched the ball fall harmlessly to the ground; Deepak Chahar fumbled a throw and conceded a second that allowed Mehidy to get back on strike; Washington let the ball slip past him and the square-leg boundary in a botched attempt at a sliding stop.
By the time India had Mustafizur on strike for the first ball of an over, Bangladesh only needed 14, and Thakur couldn’t budge him, conceding a deftly tickled boundary to fine leg in the process.
A fierce cut from Mehidy off the first ball of the next over, the 46th, brought it down to four runs required, but there was still time left for nerves to jangle. The third umpire was called upon to adjudicate a direct hit from Rohit Sharma at midwicket when the batters looked to sneak a tight single, and NOT OUT appeared on the big screen to blow the roof off the stadium and level the scores. Chahar brought all his fielders into the circle now, but Mehidy could still spot a gap, driving over cover point to seal a most improbable win.
If that last-wicket stand – which came at close to eight runs an over – was an outlier event in a match where the runs came at just under 4.3 while 19 wickets fell in 87.2 overs, there was another earlier in the day – Rahul’s 73 off 70 balls.
It was a conditions-defying innings, because this pitch was difficult in multiple ways, with the spinners enjoying natural variation and the fast bowlers getting inconsistent bounce.
The help for the spinners was evident as early as the fourth over, when Mehidy ripped his first ball past Shikhar Dhawan’s outside edge before dismissing him in his next over with one that kept going with the angle to defeat the reverse sweep and ricochet onto the stumps off chest and glove.
Shakib came on as soon as the first powerplay ended, and struck with his second ball. He delivered it with plenty of undercut to try and exploit the inconsistent turn, and Rohit, playing for turn, was bowled between bat and pad. Until then, the India captain had looked fluent, getting to 27 at close to a run a ball with four fours – including two gorgeous back-foot punches – and a pulled six.
Two balls after dismissing Rohit, Shakib had his second, slowing his pace down to induce an uppish drive from Virat Kohli, but the ball went clean off the middle of the bat and would have run away for four had Litton, diving full-length to his right at short extra-cover, not plucked it out of the air one-handed.
From 49 for 3, India recovered through two partnerships that were cut short just as they promised to grow into substantial proportions. Shreyas Iyer made 24 and seemed to be carrying on the form he showed on the New Zealand tour, only to fall to the short ball; Ebadot gaining extra bounce to produce the top-edge as the batter looked to drag a pull from outside off stump.
Washington was then part of a fifth-wicket stand of 60 off 75 balls, but most of the run-scoring came from Rahul’s end. When Washington attempted to break free – he faced 43 balls and didn’t hit a boundary – he reverse-swept Shakib straight to backward point.
India were playing four allrounders including Washington, which gave them plenty of notional depth, but as things turned out, Nos. 7, 8 and 9 lasted just 10 balls between them. Shakib caught Shahbaz Ahmed at cover, off Ebadot, and dismissed the other two, and those two wickets showed just how tricky it was to face him on this pitch.
Both balls pitched in roughly the same area, on a good length and close to off stump with a bit of initial in-drift, and Thakur and Chahar offered roughly similar defensive responses, only for the former to be bowled past the outside edge and the latter to be lbw, beaten on the inside edge.
All this while, Rahul had looked significantly more secure than any of his team-mates, and had given the Bangladesh bowlers little room for error with their lengths, sweeping productively against the spinners and pouncing on the pull and cut when the quicks had dropped marginally short.
With India eight down, he played the shot of his innings, extending his follow-through ever so slightly on a drive to loft Ebadot over mid-off and onto the boundary cushions. Two balls later, Rahul stepped across to help the ball to the fine-leg boundary. India were into the 170s now and still only in the 40th over of their innings.
Their hopes of going past 200, however, crashed in the same over, as Ebadot pounded the pitch with another short ball; Rahul took on the pull, but the ball got big on him, and that was that. Ebadot ended the innings in his next over, another short ball completing a maiden four-wicket haul in just his second ODI.