Bangladesh Claim Their First Win in T20 Against India.
Not many saw this coming
Not many saw this coming, which - admittedly on a day where more than 30 flights were diverted from Delhi - one couldn't see much anyway, especially in the lead-up. Nevertheless, as the situation improved in the evening, a crisis-ridden Bangladesh without two of their top batsmen in Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, upset - no, beat - a fancied Indian outfit at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The win, being their first over India in T20 cricket, was a landmark one, but more than that it gave the visitors - reeling from off-field woes - a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Adding to the significance, and the joy, is the back-story. The theme of India-Bangladesh T20Is, at least those in memory, was based on how Bangladesh come close, they almost have it in the bag, and then India steal it at the death.
Mushfiqur Rahim has previously been front and centre in one of their heartbreaks. But there was some redemption in his roar which emanated through the silence at the Kotla, after he was front and centre of a historic moment for Bangladesh cricket. Bangladesh's best batsman steered a chase of 149, responding to his captain's call for more consistency from his batsmen just a day prior. And he pulled it off from a tight situation, just the kind that the visitors have been known to botch.
After all the ups and downs of a typically tense low-scoring contest on a two-paced pitch, the equation had boiled down to 22 from the final two overs. But after a couple of quiet deliveries, Rahim absolutely tore into Khaleel Ahmed with four boundaries in a row, rendering the final over from Rohit Sharma's left-field choice in Shivam Dube pretty much a formality.
It was a validation of his approach to take the game deep, which could've easily come into the spotlight had things turned ugly. Even more so considering how luck had smiled on Rahim like nobody's business. Not only was he dropped at a crucial juncture, India even missed out on a couple of review opportunities for LBW appeals off Chahal.
All this happened during his partnership with Soumya Sarkar which provided much of the structure for the chase. However, although their stand was worth a significant 60 runs, it had also taken its time - 55 balls to be precise. With eight wickets in hand, going as far as the 17th over, a loss would've been hard to justify.
But the approach wasn't unfounded. It was a pitch where every batsman struggled, going back right to the start of the Indian innings. Rohit Sharma's first-ball boundary may have smashed any remaining concerns around visibility, but it wasn't a sign of things to come. Shafiul Islam struck back in that very over to let India know the same - his nip-backer proving too good for the Indian captain who's had issues with similar deliveries in the past.
There were further glimpses of how the pitch acted up at every chance, with KL Rahul - coming off some good form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy - finding it totally elusive here in his 17-ball stay, perishing to a ball that held up from leg-spinner Aminul Islam. Shikhar Dhawan held the innings along for as long as he could, without much dominance, but it wasn't until the final burst from Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar - the duo smashing 28 from 10 balls to close out the innings - that the hosts found any momentum of substance.
The chase wasn't plain-sailing for Bangladesh, as expected. Things were tight all the way through, right from the moment Liton Das punched Deepak Chahar straight to point in the first over. His opening partner in debutant Mohammad Naim didn't offer much in the way of confidence with his hit-and-miss approach, which didn't last long anyway as Chahal - who was right on top of his skills - outfoxed him with a googly.
That brought Rahim and Sarkar together, both finding the going tough against the duo of Krunal and Chahal, who raced through the middle-overs while also tightening the screws. But Rahim, in particular, ensured the boundaries kept coming to release the building pressure regularly, before he completely burst the bubble with his assault on Khaleel in the decisive penultimate over, during which he also brought up the half-century.
The pressure of having the win in sight, combined with India's winning know-how, has been Bangladesh's nemesis in the past. It wasn't so today. Today, they rose above it.
Brief scores: India 148/6 in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 41, Rishabh Pant 27; Aminul Islam 2-22) lost to Bangladesh 154/3 in 19.3 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 60* Soumya Sarkar 39; Yuzvendra Chahal 1-24) by seven wickets.