Friday 7 April 2017

Winning Gift To Mashrafe On Swansong


Majestic Malinga got a rare T20 hat-trick yet Bangladesh won the second T20 match and squaring the series 1-1, gave a fitting farewell to great Mashrafe on his swansong.

Bangladesh won the match by 45 runs. The great man himself scored a golden duck, dropped a catch, missed a run out chance but took a wicket in his penultimate ball, bowled a dot last ball. His mates gave their 100% while batting, bowling and fielding in a major turnaround.

Batting first Bangladesh scored an imposing 176/9 and defended it by penetrative bowling and very smart fielding crushing Sri Lanka to 131 all out in 18-over. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka shared all three segments of series, Tests, ODIs and T20s in an identical fashion of 1-1. Brave leader Mashrafe Bin Mortaza left the R Premdasa stadium with head high one last time in T20I career.

The feature of the match was blistering Bangladesh batting by openers Soumya and Kayes and astonishingly athletic fielding by the entire Bangladesh team. Had not majestic Malinga restricted them with a brilliant hat-trick, Bangladesh could very well go past 200. But what they scored was very aptly defended by the totally committed team bowling out Sri Lanka in brilliant fashion. The home team had no answer to the quality bowling and razor sharp fielding of the Bengal tigers.

Mashrafe opted to bat after winning the toss in his last outing in Bangladesh color in T20I. Soumya and Kayes (replacing injured Tamim) appearing in belligerent aggressive mood blasted what Lankans threw at them in the first 6.3 overs racing to 71 at 11 runs per over. Desperate Tharanga tried with all options till Gunaratne, with a cleverly disguised slower delivery, foxed dangerous looking Soumya (34) having him caught and bowled.

Sabbir joined Kayes. But Kayes (36), going for an impossible single, was soon run out. Suddenly 71/0 became 78/2. However, Sabbir and Shakib kept the momentum going. They steadied the ship adding 46 runs for the third wicket before Sabbir saw his furniture rattled by Sanjaya. Shakib also did not last long thereafter. Thisara Perera had to come to attack despite his side strain. Clever operator drying Shakib of easy strikes had him clean bowled. But by then Bangladesh was looking good at 4/139 in the 16th over.

With the batting depth, Bangladesh could score close to 200 from there. But when a team possesses the Top T20 bowler Lasith Malinga it can always pull back. He was looking ordinary till his last over on the day. But champion bowler turned the tide with the third, fourth and fifth balls cleaning up Mushfique, Mashrafe and Miraz earning a rare T20 Hat-Trick only the fifth in the format. Mashrafe in his last and Miraz in his first T20 international scored golden ducks. These were all trademark Malinga toe crashing yorkers. Bangladesh could reach an impressive 176/9 despite all these.

On an easy-paced wicket with a very strong batting line-up, Sri Lanka could still hope for a series win overhauling the target. But, Bangladesh had commitment and determination. They wanted to break the cycle of T20 defeats and also present their charismatic leader a fitting farewell gift. Mashrafe started with all spin attack letting Shakib and Miraz using the new ball. Inform Perera was removed by experienced Shakib with his very second ball. Then, in the third over Shakib took the wicket of Munaweera committing him to a false stroke. Lankans were pegged back at 19/2.

Sensing uneasiness of Lankan batsmen playing spin, Mashrafe cleverly shuffled his bowling resources. Mahmudullah accounted for Tharanga. Mustafiz, another T20 specialist like Malinga, then came to the scene blowing out Gunaratne and Sriwardene with successive deliveries of his first over. Lankans were reduced to 5/40 before the first power play was over. Yet, they had two more blasters in Kapugedara, Thisara Perera, and Prassana to rally them round. But, Bangladeshis came with a different idea on the day.

Mosaddek, Miraz, Sabbir and even Mahmudullah were seen diving around and chasing like cheetahs all over. Few stunning catches were taken, several boundaries were saved. Suddenly few Jonty Rhodes appeared for them. They had spring in their legs. Shakib returning to the attack removed Perera through a planned stumping before he could cause greater damage. Mashrafe coming to bowl his last over in T20 took a very important wicket of Prasanna bowling him with a straight delivery. His last ball was a dot. Kapugedera was going well. Mashrafe saved his ace Mustafiz for the last stage. The future of Bangladesh paid back removing Kapugedara and Malinga again in the same over. His 4/21 in 3 overs perhaps was looked with intent by his IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner.

Lankans could go as far as 131 with the last wicket grabbed by Saifuddin tipped as future pace bowling all rounder. Kapugedara’s resilient knock of 50 off 35 deliveries proved not enough.

Bangladesh won by 45 runs and leveled the series 1-1. Bangladesh broke the eight-match losing streak of T20 international in style. Great Mashrafe could lead his team for the last time in T20 International presenting a win for Bangladesh. He will still play ODI and lead his team in Champions trophy and maybe beyond.

Bangladesh earlier finished equal best in test and ODI series. A well contested Sri Lanka tour will be looked back with many positives. Few issues creating controversies would also be discussed. Many questions may be asked. But burying those for the time being Bangladesh must give rousing welcome their heroes back home. Leaving Sri Lanka like this was not possible by even the top teams in the past. A task well done. Hope Bangladesh will learn many lessons from here.



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.