The previous night, the ball had gripped and turned as West Indies used spin to dismantle Sri Lanka. The bounce was even, but not much scope for singles, players from both sides had said.
On Monday, Bangladesh, dealt a few knocks in the previous 48 hours, saw Nathan Coulter-Nile extract excellent bounce first up. Far better carry, all in all close to the good “T20 style” batting pitch Australia skipper Steven Smith had wished for. It slowed down a bit towards the end, but Australia, after a batting slump, were home. Australia reached 157 for seven with nine balls to spare, chasing Bangladesh’s 156/5.
It takes some effort to produce adjacent pitches that are far from identical twins. But Indian curators are, by and large, an unappreciated bunch. Now, the big question would be the pitch that would be laid out at the Chinnaswamy stadium, between India and Bangladesh on Wednesday. Going by the trend of turning tracks for India’s first two games, it is likely to be one where West Indies leg-spinner Samuel Badree damaged Sri Lanka’s batting.
Australia opener Usman Khawaja is another example, like Virat Kohli, that convention is not boring in the short format. All through the Aussie summer, be it a winning half-century for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League final, or in ODIs and Tests that followed, he had been in outstanding touch. His fluent 58 (45 b, 7x4, 1x6) laid the foundation, although the late dismissals exposed Australia’s reshuffled batting line-up once again.
The three–wicket win revived the Aussie campaign while the second defeat in a row virtually eliminated Bangladesh from the knockouts.
New T20 skipper Steven Smith has pushed David Warner to No 4 to accommodate Khawaja. Against New Zealand, his run out triggered a collapse leading to defeat. The Khawaja-Shane Watson pair put on a second half-century stand which didn’t go waste.
Bangladesh, forced into make a third change to the eleven following opener Tamim Iqbal’s suspected food poisoning, besides changes for suspended bowlers Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny, put up an excellent fight, although couple of dropped catches betrayed nervousness in the camp. Like Badree, young Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa struck three blows mid-innings after Watson found early success.
Mahmudullah provided late momentum with an unbeaten 49 off 29 balls in a 51-run sixth-wicket partnership with Mushfiqur Rahim (15 no). But Khawaja’s brilliant footwork and aggressive play disturbed Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza’s early bowling plans, although Watson’s brilliant run out and left-arm pacer Mustafiqur Rahim, returning after suffering a side strain during the Asia Cup, removing Smith and Mitch Marsh, and Shakib Al Hasan’s triple strike made it somewhat close before Australia crossed the line.