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Defiant 10th-wicket Bangladesh stand snatches victory in first ODI

Hosts return from the dead to script remarkable comeback win over India in first ODI.

Bangladesh's Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman during the first one day international cricket match between Bangladesh and India in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, Dec.4, 2022. (AP Photo Surjeet Yadav)

As Mehidy Hasan Miraz lofted the final ball of the 46th over for a single, a collective sigh of relief gave way to a huge roar at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. Bangladesh have been on the receiving end of a few heartbreaking moments against India before, where they believed they had the game in the bag, only for emotions and pressure to get the better of them. At 128/4 in the 35th over, with Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah in the middle, they were cruising in pursuit of 187, only to suffer a sudden collapse that left them reeling at 136/9 by the 40th over.

The home fans had already started to vacate the stadium, just to wade through the congested Dhaka traffic and get home in time for the France vs Poland fixture in the FIFA World Cup. Yet another contest against India was slipping away from their hands. In the Bangladesh dugout there were some familiar scenes, each player shell-shocked and the support staff, led by head coach Russell Domingo, looking exasperated. As the television cameras panned to outspoken Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan, one felt another meltdown was coming. That is how Bangladesh operates. Emotions tend to overflow, resulting in catastrophe.

But Sunday was different. In Mehidy Hasan, they had a calm head who was prepared to take a few calculated risks. Still 51 runs away, just one wicket in hand, it was India’s match to lose.

In fact, India were not even supposed to be in that position. Yet they were, largely thanks to KL Rahul – who further established his credentials as a middle-order batsman by top-scoring with a 70-ball 73 – and through some timely strikes from the bowling unit that was disciplined for the most part.

As Mehidy took the calculative gamble, going after anything that had width on offer, boundaries flew thick and fast. India got a chance to seal the game in the 43rd over, only for Rahul – keeping wicket in the absence of the injured Rishabh Pant — to spill the chance. Having made good ground by running as far as fine-leg, Rahul settled underneath, only to shell the chance offered by Mehidy. Thereafter, nothing went India’s way. With each passing delivery and over, the momentum swung the hosts’ way and for a change, they didn’t let emotions take over.

For India, although this would feel like a game that the bowlers failed to close down, this was lost with the bat. For a team that began preparations for the 2023 World Cup on home soil, the batting performance was below par. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the regulars were playing ODIs after a long time and were a bit rusty. And the pitch by no means was a platter with plenty of runs to be taken.

If anything, this was a typical pitch that one expects in these parts. A black soil pitch where the ball holds a bit – to suit the Bangladesh spinners – and gets slower as the game progresses. In many ways, this was a throwback to conditions in India in the 1990s when scores of 230-240 would be challenging to chase. But this is what one expects against Bangladesh, a team that is not just competent in these conditions, but can beat any side on any given day. When they take the field in ODIs at home, they are expected to win. They have already sealed their spot in next year’s World Cup ahead of South Africa, Sri Lanka and are in fifth spot in the ODI Super League, even ahead of Pakistan. It is a format in which Bangladesh feel completely at home.

No pushovers

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Under Tamim Iqbal, they have their eyes set on a top-four finish in the World Cup in India. And if conditions in India remain similar, they would definitely believe they can do it. Very few teams have such resourceful spinners, who can tie up opponents, as Bangladesh do. In Mehidy Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan, they have tweakers who can be difficult for batsmen to get underneath. And if pitches are on the slower side, they can not just be frustrating to play against, but can also wreak havoc, as India found out.

This was not a high-scoring wicket and a full-strength Indian batting unit should have been more calculative in its approach. They showed intent that one expected them to, but this was never a wicket where a team could go in fifth gear. They tried to up the pace and paid the price. Off-spinner Mehidy started by removing Shikhar Dhawan, while Shakib accounted for five wickets – those of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar – to squeeze the life out of India.

The only batsman who got going for India was Rahul. From the time he moved down the order, the Karnataka batsman has been effective in the middle order. On Sunday, he showed what he can do in case the top three fail to get going. He didn’t let the pressure bog him down, instead went for the boundary and was building a platform for the lower-middle order. Even though Bangladesh kept pegging India back with wickets at regular intervals, Rahul’s innings meant the bowlers had something to bowl at. If only other batsmen had hung around a little more.

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Brief scores: India 186 (Rahul 73; Shakib 5/36, Ebadot 4/47) lost to Bangladesh 187/9 in 46 overs (Liton 41, Mehidy 38*; Siraj 3/32) by one wicket

First published on: 04-12-2022 at 19:35 IST
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