Bangladesh seals second round qualification with clutch second innings against Nepal

Sports Monday 17/June/2024 07:33 AM
Bangladesh seals second round qualification with clutch second innings against Nepal

D stands for Drama, because that's exactly what Group D delivered in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup. It was anything but smooth sailing for tournament progressors, Bangladesh.

With South Africa already through to the next round, there was one more ticket to the Super Eight up for grabs and destiny was in the Tigers' own hands – a win and in scenario against Nepal.

Their effort in the field ultimately set up the win, creating history in the process. It was the lowest total ever successfully defended in the T20I World Cup.

Nepal was eager to finish their tournament on a high and things could not have started any better. Sompal Kami took the scalp of Tanzid Hasan caught and bowled with the first delivery of the match.

Captain Najmul Hossain Shanto was castled in the second over, causing even more despair for Bangladesh.

The Nepalese then picked up wickets in the fifth and sixth over to cap off a dominant Powerplay, having the Tigers 31/4 at the six over mark.

Bangladesh attempted an innings rehabilitation with the fielders more spread and ground their way past 50. But the crucial dismissal of Mahmudullah (13 off 13) had Bangladesh on the ropes, after a miscommunication caused a frustrating run out.

The Tigers were 57/5 at drinks, needing a huge few overs to work back into the contest.

Right arm off-spinner Rohit Paudel could smell blood, though, and produced a sharp-turning ball to trap the other danger man, Shakib Al Hasan (17 off 22), out LBW.

And things went from bad to worse for Bangladesh, as Sandeep Lamichhane stepped into prominence with two huge wickets that also gave the 23-year-old leg break bowler a memorable slice of history. Lamichhane’s second dismissal, removing Jaker Ali, was his 100th T20 International wicket, in his 54th cap.

The final blow came in the 20th over, with Paudel executing a run out to have Bangladesh all out for 106. It could’ve been worse for the Tigers, though, who added a very handy 18 runs in the final stand - a contribution that would prove vital.

Nepal’s run chase was bumpy in the early stages. A double-wicket maiden in the third over caused a spicy exchange involving bowler Tanzim Hasan Sakib, as the pressure gauge went up in St. Vincent.

Nepal stumbled to 24/4 through the Powerplay, leaving themselves a mountain of work to do at the six over mark.

Sundeep Jora was out next over, as Nepal fell to five-for and in a world of trouble. But up stepped Kushal Malla and Dipendra Singh Airee, helping steady the ship and keep the run chase within the realms of achievability.

They scrapped their way to 42/5 at drinks and toiled towards a run-a-ball assignment, with a big 16th over placing the match firmly in the balance. Two Malla boundaries took the partnership to up over 50 and with four overs to go, the required run rate was down to 7.5.

Malla (27 off 40) was the wicket Nepal could ill-afford to lose, though, gone in the 17th over. But a perfectly-timed maximum from Airee kept Nepal still feeling optimistic with a couple of overs to go, needing 22 off the final 12 balls.

And then up stepped match-winner Mustafizur Rahman to the plate in the 19th over, doing the seemingly impossible. He produced a clutch, perfectly-timed wicket-maiden. It proved to be a match-sealing and stage-qualifying sequence for Bangladesh, who edged out Nepal by 21 runs - the lowest total ever successfully defended in a T20 World Cup match.

The Tigers charge into the second round of the tournament.