Youngsters hold their nerve
Youngsters Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan showed nerves of steel to propel Bangladesh from a difficult situation to their second successive win against Australia in the five-match series at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday.
Bangladesh were reeling at 67 for five in the 12th over in chase of a 122-run target before Afif's 31-ball 37, laced with five fours and a six, and Nurul's 22 off 21 saw the Tigers coast to a five-wicket victory.
Early on, visiting pacers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood breathed fire in defence of their small total. Starc had a bouncer in the opening over crash onto Mohammad Naim's helmet, jolting the youngster, before Soumya Sarkar tried to lavishly swing across the line to the left-arm speedster only to see his stumps flying back, out for a duck after yet another poor shot.
Shakib looked fluent initially, whipping the first two deliveries he faced, both angled at his pads through, mid-on and square-leg respectively before Starc produced an edge which the wicket-keeper could not get his hands on. The ball ran to the boundary in an eventful third over that produced 12 runs and a wicket. The excitement carried over to the next over when Hazlewood sent Naim's stumps flying, the left-hander not knowing whether to go forward or back.
Mahedi Hasan was promoted to number four and chanced his luck in an eventful knock. Living the charmed life, most of his mistimed lofted strokes fell short of fielders, who were reeling from the heat and humidity in Dhaka.
Ashton Agar thought he got the better of Shakib in the seventh over, getting a leg-before appeal to go his way. But Shakib reversed the decision with a review and the Tigers could not have been faulted for feeling on top at 52 for two after eight overs.
However, Andrew Tye banished those feelings by picking up Shakib's prized wicket with a skilled slower delivery that saw Shakib play his drive early and allowed the ball to slide between bat and pad and onto the stumps.
With Shakib gone for a 17-ball 26, the pressure mounted as the 10th over approached and by the time a nervy skipper Mahmudullah Riyad departed to a four-ball duck, dragging a wide Agar delivery outside the off stump onto his stumps, it was Australia who felt on top.
Afif got a scare very early when he was given out leg-before off Mitchell Marsh, but survived with a review as ball-tracking showed the ball pitched outside leg stump. The Tigers then lost their fifth wicket as Mahedi perished, stumped off Adam Zampa after a 24-ball 23.
Afif was in no mood for the Tigers to settle for second-best and a six off Tye, worked to deep mid-wicket that just about carried over the ropes, signaled that he wanted to maintain his natural flow and not let pressure get in the way.
With Nurul Hasan Sohan providing steady hands at the other end, the duo picked up 13 runs off a Starc over to close the gap and Afif brought on his full range of strokes to steer Bangladesh to a five-wicket victory with eight deliveries to spare.
Earlier, Bangladesh pacers Mustafizur Rahman and Shoriful Islam proved crucial as Australia made a far better start with the bat in the second T20I after winning the toss. Mahedi once again removed Alex Carey in the third over after he made a run-a-ball 11.
Mustafizur was at it again with his cutters, castling Josh Phillipe in the sixth over before Moises Henriques and Marsh put on a 57-run stand. The duo paved the way for a big score before the former departed in the next over to Shakib, missing the line of the delivery while playing a slog sweep.
Due to Mustafizur and Shoriful's good work, Australia went from 88 for two to just 121 for seven after 20 overs
Marsh had been cool and calculative once again during a 42-ball 45 but with the visitors looking to accelerate, Shoriful played a pivotal role in stemming the run flow. An angled length delivery saw Marsh swing his bat trying to go over mid-wicket but a faint edge through to the wicketkeeper saw him depart and only three runs would come off that over.
Fizz got the better of both Matthew Wade and Ashton Turner in the 18th over, with the former missing his ill-conceived reverse sweep and seeing his leg-stump cartwheeling. A cutter off the next delivery bounced surprisingly and caught Agar high on his bat as the ball looped over to Nurul for an easy catch. Shoriful then bagged his second wicket, removing Ashton Turner and finished with 2 for 27 in four overs. Mustafizur, despite giving away 11 runs in his final over, finished as the pick of the bunch with three for 23 runs.