Mushfiqur Prevails in Dramatic Finish

Mushfiqur’s effort laid to waste a compelling all-round show from Marlon Samuels that did its best to overcome his team-mates’ inability to master the conditions. Samuels battled through a typically stifling spell from Bangladesh’s spinners to score a half-century and give his bowlers something to defend. His seaming team-mates then let him down to allow Bangladesh’s top order easy runs, but Samuels hit back with the wickets of the two most experienced home batsmen – Shakib Al Hasan and Mohammad Ashraful – in an economical spell. Samuels, however, bowled out in the 13th over and West Indies somehow contrived to let Bangladesh’s bottom half get 62 off the last seven overs.

There were striking similarities in the way the two innings panned out. Like their Bangladeshi counterparts earlier in the day, the West Indies fast bowlers were too short with the new ball. Like the West Indies openers, Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal capitalised with a flurry of early boundaries that set them up for the middle overs. Both line-ups lost steam rapidly in the middle overs before staging recoveries.

Kayes looked in fine touch, punching and cutting when provided with width, but Anthony Martin got him to hole out in the eighth over to give West Indies an opening. Samuels struck with the next ball, sneaking an armer through Shakib’s defences to dismiss him for a first-ball duck. Alok Kapali then gifted debutant Carlos Brathwaite his first wicket with a mindless slog to leave Bangladesh at 53 for 4 at the halfway mark. With the resolute Mahmudullah out with fever, the Bangladesh middle order faced a dodgy chase.

For a brief while, Ashraful showed signs of steering Bangladesh home, but perished off the last ball of Samuels’ spell. Mushfiqur kept Bangladesh afloat by hitting Martin for a six in the 15th over, but Naeem Islam succumbed to Darren Sammy’s slower ball to give West Indies the edge once again. It boiled down to 20 off the last two overs, and Brathwaite was handed the 19th over – bowling sides’ banana peel in the recently concluded Champions League.

Brathwaite’s lack of pace and insistence on sticking to length deliveries meant he had to maintain exemplary lines. He missed his mark twice, and Bangladesh found boundaries on both occasions. Nasir Hossain swung a straight ball to midwicket, and Mushfiqur dabbed a wide one through third man as Bangladesh looted 14 off the over. Rampaul managed to dismiss Hossain and keep things tight for four balls of the final over, before Mushfiqur signed off in style.

Earlier, Shakib and Abdur Razzak asphyxiated West Indies with a typically restrictive spell of left-arm spin, but Samuels seemed to be batting on a different pitch. Samuels walked out at No. 3 and began the international leg of the tour with two sixes off his first three balls against the habitually short Rubel Hossain. The first was a sumptuous swivel-pull over backward square leg, and the second an astounding pick-up shot that carried over backward point. Lendl Simmons found some fluency of his own, sweeping Shakib for four before planting Razzak beyond the midwicket boundary, but his exit exposed the deficiencies of the flat-footed middle order.

Andre Russell edged Shakib into the covers and Dwayne Bravo missed an armer from Razzak that skidded on, before Darren Sammy tried to loft a ball that was too full and holed out to long-off. Danza Hyatt, meanwhile, missed a lap shot to be trapped in front, as West Indies went into tailspin, but Samuels kept counter-punching.

He settled in after the turbo-charged start, gauging the conditions with a series of nudges and pushes off the spinners, even as his team-mates floundered. Having moved easily to 23 off 18 balls, Samuels opened up again with a cover drive off Naeem Islam in the 12th over, before guiding Shakib through point, both for fours. Samuels continued to upset Naeem’s lines, walking outside off and lashing him with the spin for his third six, before repeating the dose when Shakib dropped short. By the time he was out in the final over, Samuels had lifted West Indies to a respectable score, but it wasn’t enough against the rampant Mushfiqur.

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