On a pitch devoid of any grass Bangladesh scored 147 for 8 which by the looks of it all was a par score on a wicket which was good enough for batting as Sabbir Rahman’s belligerent knock of 80 proved. The onus was now on the Bangladesh bowlers to defend a kind of chase able target. Bangladesh’s defence did not start well as the slip cordon missed chances of both the openers that came to them. The Sri Lankan openers in Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal were going decently well.
Shakib al Hasan and Al Amin Hossain, took the initial wickets and pegged back the Sri Lankan chase big time. Missing the duo of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka’s batting force looked weak and lacked the counter punch. Having said that, the job for Bangladesh was not done yet as big hitters in skipper Angelo Matthews and Thisara Perera were still to come.
This was where Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza played his trump card. Bowling just one over up at the start, Mortaza saved Mustafizur to deliver in the final six overs. He brought him back as late as the 15th over and by the time both Perera and Matthews were at the wicket. He made him bowl the 15th, 18th and 20th over of the innings and utilized his overs very much to bowl Sri Lanka out of the contest. It was a contest within a contest for Rahaman bowling to good finishers like Perera and Matthews. He took the challenge big time for Bangladesh and in the process also dismissed the dangerous Perera to give the Tigers an all important breakthrough. Once Perera was gone, gone was Bangladesh’s last hope and for Matthews alone there was too much to do. Trying to score all by himself Matthews also gave his wicket away after helping Sri Lanka cross the 100 run mark.
Then for Bangladesh it was just a formality to complete the 20 overs as they won much before that. Mustafizur’s bowling in the final overs was just outstanding seeing which even Harsha Bhogle said about the speedster that he is one of the best death overs bowlers in T20 cricket in the current era. Coming that from the commentator, really meant that he is a rare talent and that he needs to be nourished and taken care of. Burden of expectations should not be loaded on his young shoulders and he should be allowed to play with freedom.
Man for the future for Bangladesh cricket, Mustafizur already has a big fan following and former cricketers and experts are really loving every bit of what they are seeing of him in recent times.
By Anshuman Roy