Australia scrape to first victory
Batting proved to be Bangladesh's downfall as the Tigers lost the fourth T20I against Australia by three wickets at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday, giving up their rare chance of completing a first-ever clean series sweep against the Aussies.
The hard-earned win for Australia was their first in a five-match series that has already been clinched 3-1 by a dominating Bangladesh.
After a compact bowling display, led by leggie Mitchell Swepson, saw Australia restrict Bangladesh to a paltry 104 for nine, the visitors hobbled but eventually managed to chase down the low total with six balls to spare.
Australia had made a clear change to their approach in this game and it was made apparent with them sending Dan Christian at No. 3, ahead of Mitchell Marsh after the visitors lost skipper Matthew Wade to a Mahedi Hasan delivery in the very first over.
Christian made his intent clear, smashing 30 runs off Shakib Al Hasan in the fourth over as he hit the premier all-rounder for five massive sixes, making the challenge even steeper for the home side.
The Tigers, however, did spark a turnaround when Mustafizur Rahman, Nasum Ahmed and Mahedi picked up five quick wickets -- including those of Christian after a 15-ball 39 blitz and in-form Mitchell Marsh for a 15-ball 11 -- for just 18 runs at one stage of the game, reducing the visitors to a vulnerable position of 65 for six after 10.2 overs.
Bowling very economically, Mustafizur, Mahedi picked up two wickets each while Nasum and Shoriful Islam had one scalp each to their names but that could not stop Australia as a 34-run seventh-wicket stand between Ashton Agar (27 off 27) and Andrew Tye (4* off 7) eventually saw the visitors home.
Earlier, Bangladesh's troubles with the bat, a constant feature of the team throughout the series but never highlighted due to the bowling prowess taking them over the line each time in the first three T20Is, were laid bare.
Opener Soumya Sarkar's misery continued as he once again threw his wicket away after a single-digit score, a 10-ball eight, for the fourth successive time in the series.
Experienced Shakib's arrival at No. 3 was supposed to bring stability to the Tigers' batting line-up. However, the all-rounder had his worst day of the series with the bat, departing to Hazlewood after a stuttering 26-ball 15, that included 18 dots and a solitary boundary which the all-rounder had to manufacture with a scoop shot past the wicketkeeper.
A slow Mirpur pitch that had a lot of zip in-store soon turned out to be the doom for the Tigers as Swepson's googlies had both skipper Mahmudullah Riyad and Nurul Hasan trapped in front in back-to-back deliveries, leaving Bangladesh reeling at 51 for four after 11 overs.
Swepson kept troubling the Bangladesh batters with his wrong ones, making Naim Sheikh (28 off 36) his third victim after the left-hander tried forcing a slog-sweep but ended up slicing it up and into the hands of the wicketkeeper. The leg-spinner finished with impressive figures of three for 12 in four overs.
With the pressure mounting due to a scoring rate below five, Bangladesh never looked on top while batting, but a cameo of 17-ball 20 from in-form Afif Hossain and Mahedi's quick-fire 16-ball 23 at the death somehow helped them past the three-figure score.