As the tense second T20I entered its last few overs yesterday night, there were two questions that lingered in the minds of those watching: When will Shakib Al Hasan, who had two overs remaining, have a go at the Sri Lankans and why would Forhad Reza, who had bowled just one over before the 20th, be given the last over?
As Mashrafe Bin Mortaza put it, it was ultimately the dew factor that compelled him to take those rather unconventional steps.
“The ball was completely wet due to the dew and he (Shakib) was not able to grip the ball and also it was a left-handed batsman at the crease (Thisara Perera),” said Mashrafe at the post-match press conference.
“We wanted the last over to be tight after me and Rubel bowled. Shakib was out of the question from long before because of the dew. The ball slipped out of the pacers' hands as well. At one stage we had to bowl cross seam,” he added.
Yet again, it was the last ball that denied the hosts a T20 win. On this occasion, with two runs required off the last ball, Forhad bowled a slower bouncer which was whacked for a four. Despite the criticism, Mashrafe stated that that was a planned delivery.
“We wanted a wicket in the last ball and go for a win instead of giving them that single. And so we thought it would be best to bowl a bouncer and surprise the batsman. Forhad gave his full effort, but unfortunately, the ball was so wet and soft that it slowed down after hitting the wicket,” explained Mashrafe.
“The fine-leg fielder was inside to put a little bit of doubt in the batsman's mind, so that he wouldn't expect the bouncer. We were looking for a mis-hit, but unfortunately, it didn't work out,” he added.
Mashrafe, who won the toss on both occasions, explained that it was hard to predict the conditions at the ground.
“The last time I chose to bowl I saw that there was no dew in the evening, also the ball stayed low in the second innings. Considering that I chose to bat first today. While the ball did stay low in the second innings, there was plenty of dew unfortunately,” said Mashrafe.
Disappointed with the way his batters played, Mashrafe thought that they were 10 to 15 runs short. At the same time however, the captain believed that the hosts showed plenty of vigour to make a game of it.
“I always believed that we could beat Sri Lanka even before the series. We lost due to mistakes that we made. Could have been better if some of our players were not injured, but there are no excuses. We will try to take the positives from this game into the ODIs,” said Mashrafe.