A commentary by Abu Musa Hasan
Hearty Congratulations to the Tigers for fighting right up to the very last ball in the final match of the Nidhas Trophy Tournament. Excellent performances in the previous matches by Bangladesh and India had meant that the trophy’s hosts were mere spectators in the final match. The Nidhas Trophy 2018 had been organised to celebrate Sri Lanka’s 70th anniversary of its independence. Before the start of the final, I have suddenly realised as March is the month of the Independence of Bangladesh, a Tiger’s victory in the Nidhas Trophy would have been a very special way to celebrate our Independence Day on the 26th March.
The Tigers had won their place in the final by beating Sri Lanka in a sensational match amidst a controversial ‘no ball’ issue in the last over when Bangladesh required 12 runs from the final four balls and achieved it. It was a great achievement especially considering their recent history of narrow failures to win similar tournaments.
Indian Captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bowl first. The Tigers batsmen were determined to post a challenging total. Openers Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das were overdue to post a good performance while other experienced players, needed to avoid being run out victims. A total of over 180 runs was a realistic and challenging target.
Bangladesh started confidently posting 25 in the first 3 overs. Wickets fell quickly but Sabbir Rahman scored fast ; 77 runs in only 50 balls. There was a final flourish by Mehidi Hasan in the last over scoring 19 in only 7 balls, 16 of them in the last over.
Although 166 is not a big total to win against one of the world’s top T20 Teams (India is currently ranked 3rd whilst whilst Bangladesh is 10th) it was a very respectable figure. India’s wickets fell steadily, the scoring rate was respectable but no better than the Tigers. After 13 overs the score was only 98 and the Tigers truly scented victory. Four overs later India still needed 35 runs for victory in only 3 overs. At that point Shakib gave the ball to cutter master Mustafizur Rahman. He mesmerised the Indian batsmen and conceded only one run and claimed one crucial wicket. At this stage, the odds were heavily weighted in Bangladesh’s favour. 34 runs in last two overs, whilst achievable is frequently more than even the best teams in the world can achieve. The captain gave the ball to Rubel Hussain who is well known for tight Yorker bowling in the death overs. But a desperate Dinesh Karthik shattered the hope of Bangladesh as Rubel conceded 22 runs including two sixes and two fours. This left India requiring 12 runs in the last over. Soumya Sarkar bowling was tight and he and conceded only 7 runs in five balls leaving India requiring five runs. It had to be a six, Dinesh Karthik delivered for India, the ball sailing over the boundary, winning the trophy for India.
This is T-20 cricket and Dinesh Karthik is not a unique player to do so. The other day, it was Mahmudullah who desperately smashed the ball over the boundary when Bangladesh required six runs for two balls to progress in the semi-final by beating Sri Lanka.
Although my heart is broken like millions of Tigers supporters, I am pleased with their heroic fight and for their great achievement to keep the disciples of Lankan Head Coach Upul Chandika Hathurusingha as spectators of the final match. Bangladesh recently lost against Sri Lanka in all formats of cricket when the later visited Bangladesh in Jan-Feb. At that time a myth was created that it happened only because Bangladesh’s former coach Hathurusingha had joined as Sri Lanka’s coach. I am happy to see that myth is over and Bangladesh team is performing much better and playing with confidence in the absence of Hathurusinghe.
Hats off to the bowling coach Courtney Walsh, who was appointed as interim Head Coach and under his guidance the Tigers have beaten Sri Lank twice and progressed to the final. I believe, Bangladesh Cricket Board will shortly appoint a competitive Head coach and the Tigers will prepare themselves in a truly professional way to become a super power in the next ICC World Cup to be held in June 2019 in England and Wales.
Abu Musa Hasan: Advisory Editor, Shottobani.