Tigers win thriller at the Gabba
Opener Najmul Hossain Shanto and pacers Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman shone for Bangladesh as the Tigers defeated Zimbabwe by three runs in a T20 World Cup Super 12 clash that swayed back and forth till the last moment at the Gabba in Brisbane on Sunday.
After Shanto's career-best 55-ball 71 helped Bangladesh post a challenging 150 for seven, it required a run-out and an eventful final over by Mosaddek Hossain, featuring two wickets, a six, a four leg-bye, and a no-ball, for the Tigers to restrict a high-flying Zimbabwe to 147 for eight and clinch a thrilling win in order to keep their semifinal hopes alive.
Zimbabwe, who suffered a top-order meltdown, took the game right down the wire with a 63-run stand between Ryan Burl and Sean Williams before the ultimate drama unfolded in the final over.
Williams, who held the Zimbabwe innings together after their initial slump to 35 for four, threatened to take the game away but his brilliant 42-ball 64-run knock was brought to an end by a superb piece of fielding by Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan. Just after Williams struck the all-rounder for a boundary in the penultimate over to bring the equation down to 19 required off nine, Shakib did brilliantly to chase down a ball played on the off-side and, with just one stump to aim at, hit the timber to have Williams run-out as he was scampering for a single.
With the dangerman Williams back in the hut, Bangladesh seemed to be back in the driver's seat. Burl was at the crease but with the momentum in the Tigers' side and 16 required off the final over, the pressure was back on Zimbabwe.
Shakib handed the ball to Mosaddek to bowl the crucial final over and he started off brilliantly, giving a one leg-bye and having Burl off the strike. Mosaddek went on to dismiss Brad Evans in the very next delivery as the tailender was caught at midwicket, failing to clear the big square boundary at the Gabba despite sweet connection.
Just when it seemed Bangladesh had the game in their grasp, Zimbabwe's luck kicked in as extra bounce off the surface saw Mosaddek's delivery brush off the shoulder of Richard Ngarava and run away for a four-bye. Zimbabwe did not need any luck the next delivery as Ngarava hammered one over deep fine leg to bring it down to five required off two deliveries.
Ngarava tried to finish it off with another lusty blow, but this time ended up getting stumped as he missed connecting the ball by coming down the track.
Zimbabwe needed to hit a six off the final delivery to win and barring any no-ball, Mosaddek was the favourite to win the battle against a tailender. Mosaddek did win the battle as he beat the willow of an advancing Blessing Muzarabani, who understandably went for a wild swing, but wicketkeeper-batter Nurul Hasan Sohan failed to contend the adrenaline rush and ended up collecting the ball from in front of the stumps to have the batter stumped.
The umpires reviewed to see if Nurul had collected the ball before it went past the stumps but the Bangladesh players, unaware of the error made, celebrated and walked out of the ground along with the Zimbabwe batters. But following a long review, the players were called back and the equation now read four required off 1 delivery, which was a free-hit, courtesy of Sohan's offence that had rendered the previous delivery a no-ball.
But ending all the drama, Mosaddek did eventually manage to emerge as the hero of the final over, bowling a dot to Muzarabani to end a seesaw contest.
Earlier, Shanto hit his maiden T20I fifty to help Bangladesh on way to posting a challenging total before Taskin and Mustafizur's exploits in the Powerplay gave the Tigers a flying start with the ball in hand. Taskin ended with excellent figures of three for 19 in four overs, including a maiden, while Mustafziur remained the most economical bowler by returning figures of two for 15 in four overs.