Mushfiqur Rahim fought a courageous battle, but found little support from the other end as Bangladesh conceded a 17-run defeat against India in their reverse fixture of the Nidahas Trophy at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo yesterday.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, who had played a match-winning knock of unbeaten 72 in their famous win against Sri Lanka on Saturday, matched that score with an unbeaten 72 runs from 55 balls against the Indians last night. But failure from the other batsmen, especially the top-order, meant the little master had to end up on the losing side as Bangladesh's chase ended on 159 for six after India had posted a challenging total of 176 for three in 20 overs.
The win took India to the final of the three-nation tournament, turning tomorrow's fixture between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka into a virtual semifinal. Whoever wins that match will face India in the final on Sunday.
The game looked set for an exciting finish after the Tigers required 61 off the last five overs, with an in-form Mushfiqur at the crease alongside Sabbir Rahman. However, off-spinner Washington Sundar, the wrecker-in-chief for Bangladesh batting, bowled a magnificent 16th over conceding just four runs as the game was decisively swung in favour of India.
Bangladesh suffered early blows while chasing, losing three of their top-order batsmen for 48 runs inside the power play -- all taken by the young off-spinner.
Liton Das, who had given Bangladesh a flying start against Sri Lanka, was the first to be dismissed in the second over of the innings for just seven as he completely missed the line of the ball while dancing down the wicket and was neatly stumped by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik.
Soumya Sarkar departed for a single trying to go for a big heave against the off-spinner, losing his stumps in the process. Tamim Iqbal looked solid right from the start as he dispatched pacer Shardul Thakur for three fours and a six in the third over. However, the left-hander perished while trying to slog-sweep Sundar, in the process exposing his stumps and getting his castles dislodged. He had scored 27 off 19 and became the third victim of Sundar, who gave away only 22 from his four overs.
Skipper Mahmudullah Riyad, despite hitting consecutive boundaries to start his knock, departed for 11, looping a simple catch at deep mid-wicket off a shortish delivery from leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sabbir Rahman, however, showed some signs of returning to form as he scored 27 off 23 balls with two fours and a six, adding 65 runs in the fifth wicket with Mushfiqur. The partnership gave Bangladesh hope, but Sabbir fell while trying to go for a big hoick against Shardul Thakur 17th over, only to lose his stumps as Bangladesh's chances of victory all but extinguished.
Earlier both teams made one change each, with Bangladesh opting for pacer Abu Hider in place of Taskin Ahmed and India drafting in pacer Mohammad Siraj in place of Jaydev Unadkat after Mahmudullah had elected to field first.
Bangladesh players, playing with black armbands in memory of all those lives lost in the Kathmandu plane crash on Monday, made a good start with the bowlers giving away just 49 runs in the Powerplay despite not getting a wicket. However, the bowlers lost their way in the latter part of the innings, bowling too many full-tosses and half-trackers.
Player-of-the-match Rohit Sharma returned to form after a series of disappointments in the first three games with a 61-ball 89 which featured five sixes and same number of fours.
He was run out in the very last ball of the innings while Suresh Raina scored 47 off 30 balls with five fours and two sixes as the pair added 102 runs for the second wicket.
For Bangladesh, left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam was pretty accurate, and despite remaining wicket-less, gave away only 27 runs from his four-over spell.
The pick of the Bangladesh bowlers, though, was Rubel Hossain. The slinger was brilliant with his accuracy as he picked up two wickets for just 27 runs. His last over of the innings went for only four runs, keeping India to 176 as the Tigers hoped they were in with a real chance.