Sunday, December 10, 2023

Captain clinches a cliffhanger

One can dream many things, no matter how big it is, but it’s not always that the dream comes true in real life. But it happens sometimes when someone like Mushfiqur Rahim appears bigger than his stature. When the Bogra-lad hit a length ball over the deep mid-wicket boundary, a memorable chapter was in Bangladesh cricket history was written on the lush green carpet of the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Tuesday night.
Mushfiqur was so assured with the last shot that he didn’t wait for the ball to sail into the gallery; he immediately raised his bat to the sky and was soon engulfed by his teammates, who sprinted on to the pitch to celebrate the moment along with the eruption of joy from the crowd.
In the record books, yesterday Bangladesh won a T20 International against West Indies by three wickets — their second success against the Caribbean side in the shortest version of the game and Mushfiqur played a match-winning unbeaten knock of 41 to chase down the tourists’ total of 132 with one ball in hand. But there were much bigger things than mere statistics, especially for Mushfiqur who began his journey as a captain in such a dramatic and fantastic way, that one can only call it the stuff of dreams.
Nothing could have been better for Mushfiqur after the way he led the team from the front in his first assignment as captain and the beauty of the match was the way it was finished by the little man. The lone T20 match of the series was full of drama, making it worth the while for fans who paid to watch, and in the end it was the new Bangladesh skipper who hogged the limelight after almost single-handedly delivering the victory with a well-calculated and perfectly-paced innings. It was only Bangladesh’s fourth success in 17 tries in cricket’s newest format.
In this match, Bangladesh’s bowlers were excellent in restricting the West Indies. The fielding was stupendous, fitting in well with the coach Stuart Law’s mantra of “smart” cricket. For West Indies, Marlon Samuels carried his form from the practice matches with a brisk fifty but the fans will definitely remember this match for Mushfiqur’s final act.
Requiring six runs from the last six balls, the captain himself was on strike but the tension was mounting among the fans when he failed to get a run from Ravi Rampaul’s first ball. Off the next he managed a single only to see Nasir Hossain, who brilliantly assisted his skipper before his moment of madness, losing his temper to offer a simple catch to the wicketkeeper. Thanks to Abdur Razzak, who managed a single off the first ball he faced, the strike was back with Mushfiqur leaving four runs to be score from the last two balls.
Mushfiqur though didn’t wait for the last ball and scripted the historic win in dramatic fashion.
But before that he showed his character when the Bangladesh middle-order began to undo their brilliant bowling and a promising start to the chase and he had Nasir, who added a valuable 18 runs off 15 balls with one boundary, beside him to take the match into the final touch by sharing 35 runs for the seventh wicket.
Mushfiqur stayed firm until the end. He didn’t lose his cool even though the asking rate was increasing. Bangladesh needed 43 from the last five overs with five wickets in hand and at one stage they required 20 runs from the last two overs and West Indies skipper Darren Sammy could be seen smiling on the field, but Mushfiqur and Nasir turned the tables, taking 14 runs from the penultimate over of pacer Carlos Brathwaite.
The fans were on their toes in the last over and Mushfiqur gave them reason to smile and compensated for the recent disastrous tour of Zimbabwe and the shameful batting debacle (58 runs all out) against the same opponents at the same venue in the ICC World Cup.
WEST INDIES: 132 for 8 (Simmons 23, Barath 15, Samuels 58, Russell 5, Bravo 7, Ramdin 10 not out; Razzak 2-27, Shafiul 2-19, Shakib 2-25)
BANGLADESH: 135 for 7 (Tamim 11, Imrul 22, Ashraful 24, Mushfiqur 41 not out; Naeem 10, Nasir 18; Rampaul 2-28, Samuels 2-14)
Result: Bangladesh won by three wickets.
Man-of-the-match: Mushfiqur Rahim

-With The Daily Star input

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