It was another heartbreaking defeat, and there were tearful faces once again as Soumya Sarkar knelt, broken and face down on the R Premadasa Stadium turf after Dinesh Karthik bludgeoned a flat six that just made it over the extra cover rope when five runs were needed off the last ball to win the T20I tri-series Nidahas Trophy final last night in Colombo.
Soumya went into the dressing room and cried his heart out yet again. Because yet again Bangladesh were so close yet so far from breaking the jinx of losing in multi-national tournament finals. It was their fifth such defeat.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan brought in his best bowler Rubel Hossain -- who not only conceded just 13 runs in his first three overs for two wickets but had been Bangladesh's best throughout the tournament -- to bowl when India needed 34 from the last 12 balls.
But it wasn't to be as Karthik, after a superb Mustafizur Rahman 17th over that contained four dot balls, allowed India just one run and cost them the wicket of Manish Pandey. Wicketkeeper-batsman Karthik put on a magnificent display of precision power hitting as he took Rubel for 22 runs in the 19th over with two sixes and two fours bringing down the equation to 12 runs from the last over.
Part-time seamer Soumya managed to hold his nerve and bowled well to bring the equation down to nine off the last three deliveries. A struggling Vijay Shankar first struck a four, but Soumya came back strong and bowled a fullish delivery that Shankar could only hit in the air as far as long on to depart after scoring 17 off 19 balls. But by the time the ball nestled into Mehedi Hasan Miraz's hands after a collision with the long on fielder caused a few juggles, Karthik had crossed over to the striker's end in to perform his heroic denouement.
Player-of-the-match Karthik walked out, having taken his side across the winning line with a blistering eight-ball 29 which includes three sixes and two fours.
But it was a brilliant comeback from Bangladesh's bowlers since Mehedi went for 17 runs in the second over of the innings. Shakib removed Shikhar Dhawan for 10 and that was followed by Rubel picking up the crucial wicket of Suresh Raina on a review after the umpire initially singled a wide, but later replays showed that the ball had taken an edge on its down-the-leg path as Raina went for the pull. India were 32 for two inside four overs.
India once again started to gain momentum with skipper Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul but once again Rubel brought Bangladesh back in the 10th over, having the latter caught at deep square leg off a short delivery for 24 off 14 balls.
Since then, Bangladesh started to build pressure on the Indian batsmen as they conceded just 16 runs in the next three overs and it paid off when Rohit went for a big shot to left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam and was caught at long on after scoring 56 off 42 balls. India then required 63 off the last six overs.
But skipper Shakib found himself a bowler short, which forced him to bring on Soumya and the medium pacer managed to keep things relatively quiet with his well-directed yorkers as the game went down to the wire with India needing 35 off 18 balls and then Mustafizur's brilliant 17th over turned up the pressure on India, only for Karthik to perform his magic trick.
Earlier, under-fire batsman Sabbir Rahman scored a scintillating 50-ball 77 to provide the impetus behind a Bangladesh innings that threatened to stutter to a halt when the in-form Mushfiqur Rahim departed to leave the score at an underwhelming 68 for four in 10.1 overs after India won the toss.
Openers Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das were back in the pavilion within the first five overs, both falling to the spin duo of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal. Liton top-edged a sweep off the off-spinner Sundar and was caught at short fine leg in the fourth over for 11. Tamim followed in the next over for 15 when he launched leg-spinner Chahal towards long on, and it looked like a certain six until a jumping Shardul Thakur plucked the ball out of the air on the very edge of the boundary and managed to keep his balance upon landing centimetres inside the rope.
Soumya Sarkar came and went in the same over, sweeping Chahal straight to square leg. Mushfiqur's dismissal for nine, caught off Chahal, brought together the hero of Bangladesh's stirring win over Sri Lanka on Friday Mahmudullah Riyad and a Sabbir growing in confidence on 28 off 25 balls. That short 36-run partnership in 25 balls changed the momentum of the innings. The pair ran well between the stumps and Sabbir moved nearer to top gear, hitting two boundaries in the 14th over from pacer Thakur.