After promising so much with their win in the first T20I in Delhi, it was a bitter pill to swallow for Bangladesh in Nagpur as they lost the third and final T20I by 30 runs in Nagpur, thereby losing the series 2-1 to India.
India pacer Deepak Chahar wrapped up the match with a hattrick and recording the best T20I bowling figures of six wickets for seven runs in 3.2 overs as Bangladesh were all out for 144 in chase of India’s 174 for five. Chahar’s outstanding bowling overshadowed a star turn from rookie Bangladesh opener Mohammad Naim, who hammered 81 runs off just 48 balls, his maiden international fifty in just his third match.
The momentum had been with India after they won the second T20I convincingly in rajkot. The wicket here was supposedly going to be similar to the one at Rajkot but there were noticeable differences. The pitch in Nagpur tended to slow down and shot-making was often difficult, while the one for the second T20I was a belter throughout. Like in Rajkot, however, Bangladesh had reached a threatening position but then lost their way. It was a more even contest in Nagpur but Bangladesh will be licking their wounds, wondering how close they had gotten to creating history and becoming the first team to beat India in T20I series in their own backyard.
India’s 174 for 5 looked like an ominous total after the Tigers won the toss and elected to bowl. Then they lost Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar -- both batsmen counted upon in T20s to give the team a powerful start -- inside three overs. Bangladesh reached just 18 in the first five overs but then young Naim started putting pressure back on India. Three consecutive fours off Yuzvendra Chahal signalled his intent. At the end of 10 overs Bangladesh were 74 for two -- above India’s 71/2 at the same stage -- with Naim and Mohammad Mithun starring in a fifty partnership. Runs came thick and fast with Naim playing the ball to its merit, adjusting his shots with the slowness of the pitch. A six and four off Chahal brought up Bangladesh’s 100 and Naim was going big guns.
In the space of two deliveries, the game changed. Mithun, playing second fiddle, fell trying to hit Deepak Chahar over mid-off and then Mushfiqur Rahim fell first ball next over, dragging a Shivam Dube delivery onto his stumps. Dube’s next over broke the camel’s back as he removed Naim after a magnificent 81 off 48 deliveries with a perfect yorker, before Afif fell to a soft dismissal next ball. With pressure increasing, Mahmudullah departed to Chahal and Chahar celebrated India’s series victory by bagging a hattrick, removing Shafiul Islam in the last ball of the 18th over and scalping Mustafizur Rahman and Aminul Islam in the first two deliveries of the last over.
Earlier, it all began brilliantly for the Tigers when Shafiul Islam got one to zip back into Rohit Sharma in the second over of the innings. The right-hander, who had singlehandedly thwarted the Tigers with a high-octane 85 in the second game, tried to flick a delivery from outside off and just managing an inside edge that disturbed his stumps.
It was a great start but KL Rahul was showing early signs of dominating the Bangladesh attack with some nifty strokes, while Shikhar Dhawan kept trying to break loose. Having danced down the wicket to a couple of Bangladesh bowlers but not being able to connect, Dhawan finally skied one off Shafiul and Mahmudullah got under it at deep midwicket to remove the opener for 19.
Shafiul was charged up and Shreyas Iyer, who was on 1 when he failed to cut away a delivery properly and lobbed it to Aminul Islam at point. The ball hung in the air and with Shafiul about to celebrate, Aminul dropped it. It would turn out to be a defining moment.
Rahul and Iyer took buckled down and were content to bide their time in the middle after the early lapses. They waited for a release and it came in the form of strike bowler Mustafizur Rahman, who often dropped it short and hard onto the pitch. The deliveries had some good carry but it became predictable, and some loose deliveries from the left-armer did not help. Rahul saw the opportunity and picked Mustafizur off to begin gaining momentum. 21 came from Fizz’s first two overs and Rahul raised his bat after a fine fifty off just 33 deliveries. India were fast taking the game away from the Tigers.
Luckily, Bangladesh staged a comeback when Al Amin changed the pace of the delivery and lured Rahul into a front-foot drive over mid-off. Rahul tried to play it early but the ball just looped to Liton at mid-off. Bangladesh still had to pay for that dropped catch and Iyer took charge. In the 15th over, Iyer pounded three sixes off Afif Hossain and brought up his fifty in the same over.
It was the slow medium pace of Soumya Sarkar that saw Bangladesh restrict India to below 200. First it was Risabh Pant who tried to whack one through mid wicket but missed the length and the line to see his stumps castled. Four deliveries later Iyer skied one, not mustering the power he had envisioned and holed out to long off. The damage had been done however as Iyer had added 61 runs after being dropped on 1. He picked up the runs at a fast rate as well, his 33-ball 62 containing three fours and five sixes.
Mustafizur leaked 21 more from his last two overs with Manish Pandey playing a handy knock as India reached 174 for five in 20 overs.