A last-ball six would have given India a one-wicket win – just like Bangladesh’s in the first ODI – but Mustafizur Rahman nailed a yorker at Rohit Sharma’s legs, and India’s No. 9 could only stab it along the ground to long-on.
Having spent 91 overs off the field after dislocating a finger early and requiring stitches on his split left webbing, Rohit almost levelled the series, striking five late sixes in an unbeaten 51 off 28 balls, but Mustafizur ensured it was Bangladesh who made it consecutive home ODI series wins against India.
The left-arm seamer’s perfect execution meant Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s unbeaten century became the first in a victorious cause by a No. 8 in an ODI (and only the second overall). As he had done in the first ODI, Mehidy rescued Bangladesh on Wednesday too on another slow, tricky pitch with pronounced uneven bounce. Coming in when Bangladesh were staring at defeat at 69/6 after choosing to bat in Dhaka, Mehidy first revived the innings in a 148-run partnership with Mahmudullah, and then tore into the Indians at the death as the hosts plundered 102 in the last 10 overs for the loss of just one wicket.
Mehidy then opened the Bangladesh bowling and despite being targeted by Shreyas Iyer, went on to take two massive wickets. He trapped stand-in skipper KL Rahul plumb in front – so plumb that the batsman actually walked – to reduce India to 65 for 4. Then as Iyer and Axar Patel brought the Indian chase back on track with a 107-run fifth-wicket partnership, Mehidy had Iyer mishitting an attempted second six of the over to deep midwicket.
He would hobble off the field after bowling just one delivery in the 47th over, seemingly another bout of cramps proving to be too much to endure, but by then, he had done more than enough. And it is testament to how far Bangladesh have come that his bowling colleagues stepped up under pressure to close out a narrow win.
When Mehidy walked in to bat at the end of the 19th over, India were all over Bangladesh. Mohammed Siraj had dislodged the openers with characteristic zip and nip, and had given Najmul Hossain Shanto and Shakib Al Hasan a proper working over, with both word and deed. Najmul had been beaten numerous times and Shakib was smacked on the side of the helmet.
To Bangladesh’s misfortune, the pace of their examination only quickened with the introduction of Umran Malik. He hit Shakib in the ribs and on the helmet in the same over, and before Najmul’s bat could get behind the line, his off-stump was uprooted.
Then followed their capitulation to spin. Shakib had been softened up enough to offer a tame top edge from an attempted slog off Washington Sundar. The off-spinner was terrific, complementing his naturally flat trajectory by flighting the ball on occasions, finding grip and turn, and also bowling a quicker straighter one. Mushfiqur Rahim was soon consumed Test-match style off bat-pad at leg slip, and Afif Hossain bagged a golden duck as he backed away to cut a lovely arm ball and lost his off-stump.
The difference between the rest of the Bangladesh innings and the Indian chase – barring the finish – was that Mehidy and Mahmudullah never got tied down. The only real chance came and went in the 24th over as Malik found himself too far in from the deep square-leg rope and Mahmudullah’s swipe whistled over him.
The former Bangladesh captain’s was the steadying hand, with the occasional blast through the covers or slog over midwicket. Mehidy was more free-flowing, punishing the spinners when they provided width, and not holding back from a dash down the wicket or a big slog.
Rahul took off Malik after the 20th over following a fiery five-over spell. By the time the tearaway returned in the 34th, Bangladesh were back in control. Axar Patel just hadn’t found the right pace, line or length, especially in his first spell, and Siraj had proven to be erratic and expensive after the initial verbal volleys and unplayable snorters.
After Mahmudullah’s departure in the 47th over, Mehidy moved into top gear. He authoritatively dispatched Malik through the covers and also reverse-scooped him between the wicketkeeper and third man. Shardul Thakur was slogged for a couple of sixes in the last over, as Mehidy reached his maiden ODI century – he also has a Test hundred – knocking a single off the last ball of the innings.
Chasing 272 on this surface was going to be hard, even if India’s captain-opener were to be fit. Virat Kohli, facing the first ball in an ODI for the first time since 2008, and opening in an ODI after almost nine years, lasted six balls, under-edging a pull onto his stumps. Shikhar Dhawan was bounced out by Mustafizur in the next over.
Iyer held fort, as he has done often in ODIs this year, and after a nervy start, Axar began to hurt the left-arm spinners. Iyer took on spin so effectively that of his nine boundaries, only one came against a pacer. But his strength was to also be his downfall when he went for another six off Mehidy, with the equation under control at 100 needed off 91. That suddenly appeared stiffer with his exit; with Axar also succumbing to extra bounce three overs later, Bangladesh had regained command. Rohit would make them sweat at the end, but Siraj’s inability to get bat to ball at the other end in a 12-ball 2 put the equation beyond the Indian captain’s heroics.
Brief scores: Bangladesh 271/7 in 50 overs (Mehidy 100*, Mahmudullah 77; Washington 3-37) beat India 266/9 in 50 overs (Iyer 82, Axar 56, Rohit 51*; Ebadot 3-45) by five runs