Mushfiqur Rahim's knock of 60 helped Bangladesh win for the first time against India in Twenty20 Internationals. (Photo Credit: PTI)
Heading into the Twenty20 International against India at the Arun Jaitley stadium, Bangladesh were carrying years of pain and hurt. In 2016, they spectacularly choked in the World T20 clash in Bangalore when they needed two runs off three balls with three wickets in hand only to lose by one run. In the 2018 Nidahas Trophy final, Bangladesh needed to defend five runs off the last ball but Dinesh Karthik hit a flat six off Soumya Sarkar to deny them the title in spectacular fashion. The scoreline read 8-0. In addition to the scars provided by two very close losses, Bangladesh were facing an uphill task. To add to their woes, they suffered a body blow when their superstar Shakib Al Hasan was banned for two years (one suspended) for not reporting booking approaches.
With so much hurt off the field, the win in Delhi, amidst the pollution that was choking the city speaks volumes of their character. That it was led by Mushfiqur Rahim, the constant survivor in the midst of eight consecutive losses was poetic justice. Bangladesh's spinners had restricted India's batting to 148/6 and they were given a good start by Mohammad Naim on debut. Soumya Sarkar and Mushfiqur shared a 60-run stand and put Bangladesh on course.
Earlier, Mushfiqur had survived a review off Yuzvendra Chahal and Rishabh Pant did not go for the review. The right-handed wicketkeeper batsman decided to bide his time and take the game deep. Heading into the last three overs, they needed 35 off three overs. India gifted Mushfiqur another life when Krunal Pandya dropped his catch off Chahal and Bangladesh needed 22 off 12.
However, the 19th over changed the entire complexion when Mushfiqur slammed four consecutive boundaries off Khaleel Ahmed. When he notched up his fifty, the celebrations were muted. There was no chest-thumping, there was no premature celebrations. It was silent acknowledgement. The lessons of Bangalore and Colombo were learnt on that night in Delhi. Calmly, Bangladesh got over the line and they had broken the jinx.
Mushfiqur outlined the blueprint which ensured Bangladesh did not lose their ninth straight game against India. "We have had a lot of close games against India. So we promised ourselves that the next time we go into such a phase of the game, we don't want to lose. We have learned a lot from those last two games against India that went into the last over, so we discussed on how we can overcome those moments. I was telling Riyad bhai (Mahmudullah) that let's win in singles and doubles rather than going for big hits. I think we have nothing to lose coming into this game and also in this whole series so that gave the freedom to play to our potential and fearless cricket," Mushfiqur stated.
The win in Delhi comes as a boost at a time Bangladesh cricket was reeling from the recent cricketer's strike and the ban on Shakib. The calmness and maturity shown from the players despite all the distractions was symbolic of their continuing evolution. For Mushfiqur, he put the ghosts of Colombo and Bangalore to rest by finally guiding his team over the line in grand style.