A winning six from all-rounder Mahmudullah in the second last ball of the chase and an ugly brawl between players of both the sides over a “no-ball” decision were topics of discussion in the cricketing arena as Bangladesh secured a dramatic two-wicket win over host Sri Lanka in the Nidahas T20I tri-nation series at R Premadasa Cricket Stadium in Colombo Friday.
With the win, the Tigers stormed into the grand finale, scheduled for Sunday at the same venue, where India lie in wait.
With Mahmudllah the only specialist batsman in the middle, Bangladesh needed 12 runs off the last over. The first ball by left-arm pacer Isuru Udana went for a dot over left-handed batsman Mustafizur Rahman’s head. The second delivery had also gone over Mustafizur's shoulder. There was no contact of the bat and he had rushed for a single only to get run out.
Mahmudullah rushed to the leg-umpire asking for a no-ball. The on-field umpires however, did not respond to Bangladesh's emotions. Soon, substitute player Nurul Hasan, who raced to the middle with water bottles, got involved in verbal battle with the Lankan cricketers, especially all-rounder Thisara Perera.
The brawl continued as other Bangladesh cricketers from the dressing room rushed to join in the action. At one point, the two batsmen at the crease - Mahmudullah and No 10 batsman Rubel Hossain - had put their bats down on the ground after captain Shakib al Hasan had indicated them to leave the field. But the side's manager Khaled Mahmud played cool and urged Mahmudullah to return to the crease. Mahmudullah then hit a boundary to cut the chase to eight required off three deliveries. Mahmudullah flicked the fourth ball to mid-wicket for a two and in the penultimate delivery, the Mymensingh lad smashed a massive six over backward square-leg to spark wild celebrations in the Tigers dugout.
The home crowd was left stunned and the Bangladesh players, and officials, had much pleasure in showing off the “Nagin dance”.
Mahmudullah emerged from the situation as the hero, scoring an unbeaten 43 off 18 balls to set up a final clash with India.
The Bangladesh chase on the day was set up by opener Tamim Iqbal, who made a 42-ball 50 and added 64 with wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim for the third wicket. Tamim in his innings hammered four boundaries and two over boundaries.
Earlier, half-centuries from the in-form left-handers Kusal Perera and Thisara saw Sri Lanka bounce back from a shaky start.
Initiated by Shakib, Bangladesh got off to a dominant start in the decider. The Tigers bowlers attacked the Sri Lanka batsmen right from the word go after the home side were sent in to bat first. Bangladesh were boosted with the return of ace all-rounder Shakib in the national fold after he recovered from a finger injury incurred in January this year. The captaincy was handed back to Shakib from Mahmudullah and the former was in his elements right from the very first over, conceding only three runs.
Bangladesh had a good mix in the powerplay using four bowlers but it was Shakib who had initiated a top-order debacle. With seamer Rubel bowling the second over and conceding 12 runs, Shakib got back for the third and removed opener Danushka Gunathilaka right in the first ball and went on to give away just six runs in the over.
In the fourth over a sharp Mustafizur dismissed opener Kusal Mendis in the last ball off a short delivery. The left-arm pacer came to bowl the last over of the power play and affected two more wickets - first running out Upul Tharanga in the sixth over before dismissing Dasun Shanaka in the same over to leave Sri Lanka reeling on 35 for four in the powerplay.
With immense pressure built up, Sri Lanka lost the veteran Jeevan Medis to youngster Mehedi Hasan Miraz in the first ball of the ninth over with 41 on the board but this was the time Bangladesh started drifting away from the game.
Kusal and the experienced Thisara pulled the home side out from sinking further, adding 97 for the sixth wicket, part of which had come from Bangladesh's defensive bowling strategy. With two left-handed batsmen in the middle, Shakib had cut off using left-arm bowlers, which included himself. Shakib in the game ended bowling just two overs, despite showing glimpses of returning to action while left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam Apu had to walk back without bowling a delivery in the game. But the strategy yielded zero results as the two Sri Lankan senior men steered the side to 138/6 from 41/5.
Kusal registered his third half-century in the series posting 61 off 40 balls before getting dismissed in the 19th over to Soumya Sarkar, who conceded 13 runs in the over. In the last over, Rubel conceded nine runs and took the wicket of Thisara, who scored a 37-ball 58 with three boundaries and as many sixes.
In the last five overs, Sri Lanka scored 60 which once again showed Bangladesh are far away from mastering the death overs. Bangladesh deployed six bowlers in the attack and each had picked at least one wicket except Mahmudullah, who gave away 29 in his quota of four overs.
160/8 in 19.5 overs (Tamim 50, Mahmudullah 43*) beat Sri Lanka
159/7 (Kusal 61, Thisara 58) by two wickets