In the end, it was a matter of choice.
With his side needing four runs from two balls, Mushfiqur Rahim was presented with a shorter length ball from Ravi Rampaul. He swung from the hips, a sort of swat-pull that landed over their dressing-room and bounced into the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium Grandstand. In a similar situation two months ago in dark, cold Harare, Mushfiqur bungled up when he skied a pitched up Chris Mpofu delivery with the Tigers needing six to win from five balls in the crunch third ODI.
On that occasion, the choice of shot was a slog. His attempted hit down the ground went as far as long-on where Vusi Sibanda took a calm catch amid all the tension. This time, the new captain decided to go by his coach Stuart Law’s words. He went for the smart choice, though it was more commonsensical than clever to hammer such a poor delivery into the baying crowd at mid-wicket.
Before Mushfiqur’s heroics however, the Tigers’ collapse from 1-49 to 4-54 wasn’t exactly smart. Imrul Kayes’s sweep didn’t go long enough, Shakib Al Hasan missed a straight ball and what Alok Kapali tried to do was beyond most spectators’ imagination.
Mohammad Ashraful departed for 25 three overs later, making Mushfiqur the lone man capable of pulling off the win. With Naeem Islam, he added 22 before the all-rounder’s risky move away from the stumps was stunted by Darren Sammy. Nasir Hossain, who notoriously fell in those tantalising moments in Harare, gave Mushfiqur comfort through some sensible batting.
The debutant’s 18 off 15 balls had a single boundary and that too came when the required run-rate needed a boost, a mark of his street-smartness that has been his specialty in domestic cricket.
Nasir’s dismissal off the third ball of the last over had the potential of rocking the boat but Mushfiqur’s calm head was the Tigers’ biggest asset at that point.
A good decision, even under extreme pressure, is the mark of a cool character, one who doesn’t flinch in front of the blowtorch and melt under the public’s expectations. That is what Law has asked his new charges, the need to play smart cricket which amounts to taking the right path to perform a task on the field. Given that the former Australian cricketer was just a week into his new job when he landed with the Tigers in Zimbabwe, the West Indies series is billed as his first real test as Bangladesh coach.
Yesterday’s Twenty20 was littered with many potential landmines which could have deprived the Tigers of much-needed momentum ahead of the ODI series that starts tomorrow.
Instead, Shafiul Islam and Abdur Razzak confidently kept the West Indies openers Lendl Simmons and Adrian Barath in check, supporting Shakib Al Hasan’s excellent four overs where the erstwhile national captain bowled probably two bad balls.
Shafiul bowled the final over of the innings that went for just four runs. It stood out for the mixing of his lengths, something that he used to get the runaway Marlon Samuels out, scuttling him with a wide slower delivery.
The Tigers’ fielding too stood out, especially Tamim Iqbal’s effort down the ground during the last few overs while for once, none of the catches went down. The importance of safe hands was reflected by the visitors’ low score.
The calmness while bowling and fielding wasn’t exactly mirrored with the bat but Mushfiqur led by example, vindicating his coach and helping himself to a captaincy debut to remember.
-With The Daily Star input