Bangladesh clinch ODI series despite late Rohit Sharma counter
Maiden ton by Mehdi Miraz helps Bangladesh reach 271 from 69/6 before India bungle the chase in a last-ball thriller
Once may be a fluke. Twice is a wake-up call. Bangladesh are no pushovers, definitely not at home where they are backed by 30,000 screaming fans. But India kept erring till they had reached a point of no return, losing the thrilling second ODI in Mirpur on Wednesday by five runs and the series. India slumped to their second consecutive series defeat in Bangladesh despite a brave fifty from captain Rohit Sharma, who came in at No 9 after missing almost the entire game due to a thumb injury suffered on the field.
It was a nearly-there effort from Sharma, pulling Ebadot Hossain for two sixes before caressing him through cover for a boundary, scoring 18 runs in the 46th over and bringing the equation down to 41 off 24 balls, achievable by T20 standards.
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But this is an India team where the batters refuse to bowl and the bowlers refuse to bat sensibly. So instead of putting bat to ball and giving the strike to Sharma, Mohammed Siraj kept trying to heave Mahmudullah—who came on only after Mehidy Hasan Miraz hobbled off with an injury—and Mustafizur Rahman in vain for eight balls.
Two dropped catches in the 49th over by Mahmudullah added to the element of theatre. But those eight dot balls faced by Siraj in the 47th and 48th overs—for just one run—meant 20 runs were asked of Sharma in the final over, bowled by Rahman. He tried. A dot, two fours, another dot and then a six whittled down the ask to six runs off the last ball when Rahman fired in a yorker. And that was that for India.
It shouldn’t have gone down to the wire. But once again, India’s middle-order failed to consolidate a crucial partnership. Shreyas Iyer finally had the chance to play the saviour’s role but the impulse to hit back-to-back sixes broke a promising 107-run stand for the fifth wicket with Axar Patel. Four overs later, Patel flat-batted Hossain’s hard-length ball to Shakib Al Hasan at extra cover. “When you get 50, 70-run partnerships, you should make it 100-120 partnership,” Sharma said at the post-match presentation.
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Bangladesh did exactly that, two matches in a row now. In the first game, they allowed Miraz to stitch a record 10-wicket partnership to steal victory. On Wednesday, Bangladesh were reeling at 69/6 before Miraz added 148 runs for the seventh wicket with Mahmudullah (77) and went on to score his maiden hundred off the last ball of the innings, facing 83 balls (8x4, 4x6).
The match seemed headed in an entirely different direction by the 19th over when Bangladesh had lost six wickets. Siraj and Umran Malik did early damage before Washington Sundar’s disciplined spin bowling had dismissed Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim in the space of six balls. This was when Mahmudullah and Miraz came together. Miraz again played the aggressor’s role against a bowling attack short of one man when Deepak Chahar pulled up with a stiff hamstring after bowling just three overs.
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“From 70/6 to allowing them to score 271 was not a great effort from the bowlers,” said Sharma. “The middle overs and back end are hurting us. It hurt us in the first game as well. We need to learn how to break partnerships and that's something that will hold you in good stead.”
Sharma also took a swipe at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) over their letting cricketers to play for India despite fitness issues. “Few injury concerns and we need to get to the bottom of it; maybe they're playing too much cricket. It's something we have to sit down with our team at NCA and try and monitor their workload. Can't afford to have half-fit players representing India,” he said.