Newly-appointed T20I captain Mahmudullah Riyad marshalled his charges well as Bangladesh curtailed India’s stroke-makers early on, but the skipper will be ruing the late power-hitting which allowed the hosts to reach 148 for six at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi in the first of the three-match series yesterday.
Quite a bit of grass had been left on the pitch a day ahead of the match but a more batting-friendly track was in the offing on the day of the match. The seamers were still likely to get some early swing and Shafiul Islam seized that opportunity, removing Rohit Sharma leg-before in the first over with a sharp in-dipper. Riyad’s field setting complemented his bowlers and made the Indian batsmen work for the runs while the slowness of the pitch worked in the Tigers’ favour.
Indian batsmen had to force the issue as the visitors bowled a good line and length. Bangladesh also showed positive signs of overcoming the upheaval of the last few weeks with an electric fielding effort to complement the bowlers.
Following Shafiul’s early wicket, Al-Amin Hossain kept up the pressure at the other end and leg-spinner Aminul Islam benefitted. Aminul removed Lokesh Rahul in his first over as the ball turned away sharply from the right-hander and, as the batsman tried to check his shot, he only managed to lob an easy one to the well-positioned Riyad at cover. Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan tried to settle things for India but a few leading edges here and there showed that Tigers were not making things easy.
Aminul then got Iyer’s scalp in the 11th over with the batsman looking to go big but only managing to connect with the toe-end of the bat and getting caught at long-off.
The next four overs brought 22 runs and with pressure beginning to tell, Dhawan succumbed after a handy knock of 41. A sharp piece of fielding from Mahmudullah saw Dhawan struggle to get back to his crease and eventually fall short as Pant sent him back after an initial call for a double.
Afif Hossain had been bowling a brilliant line and length and was rewarded when he sent back Shivam Dube with a brilliant catch off his own bowling.
India were 102 for five and in deep trouble but Pant managed to put some pressure back on the Tigers with a few nifty strokes. Curiously, Mustafizur Rahman was not banked on for the last few overs as Riyad chose to finish Al-Amin’s quota.
The paceman, who came back into the national team after three years had bowled economically during his early spells but both him and Shafiul Islam were taken apart in the last two overs of the innings that produced 30 runs.
Washington Sundar (14 off five) and Krunal Pandya’s (15 off eight) late fireworks ensured that India reached a challenging total after it had appeared that the hosts would not go past the 135-run mark before the last two overs.