Brilliant Nafees steals a thriller
The Bangladesh XI came into this match desperate to make make amends for a slip-up against the World XI in their first game, and proved that they are up for winning this tournament. Aftab Ahmed and Alok Kapali played handy contributions in a five-wicket, last-over win, but it was Shahriar Nafees' splendid unbeaten 70 from 54 balls that finished the job in tense fashion. Totals around 160 had proven tough to defend all season, and India will rue that no batsman apart from their captain, R Sathish, went on to score something substantial.
Bangladesh lost Nazimuddin in the opening over of their chase, slogging Rajamani Jesuraj's fourth ball to third man. That brought Nafees to partner Aftab, and they took after the attack like there was no tomorrow. Nafees slapped ten in two balls from Rakesh Patel while Aftab, having been dropped on 4 by Sathish on the long-on boundary, executed the paddle shot superbly against the medium-pacers. The Aftab-Nafees stand had added 52 in 6.4 overs before Aftab missed a slog-sweep and was bowled by Inder Shekhar Reddy for 26 from 18 balls.
A middle order collapse hurt Bangladesh when they chased against the World XI. Then Kapali failed after a successful outing in the previous tournament, but here he clicked. Kapali got off with two slogs - one for six, the other for four - against Reddy and meted out similar treatment when Sathish brought himself on. His third six came off Patel, a lovely lofted drive over cover, and it inspired Nafees to saunter out of his crease and deposit Ali Murtaza for the biggest six of the night. Nafees' striking remained crisp and never did he look flustered.
Kapali fell for a 23-ball 44 just after striking his fourth six, Jesuraj steadying himself and holding onto a big hit to deep midwicket (112 for 3). With 34 needed from 22 balls, Nafees clipped Patel off his pads for six and eased past his half-century from 45 balls. Mohammad Rafique was promoted to No. 5 and fell for a 13-ball 16 in the 18th over to give India a slight chance, with 18 needed off 14 balls. An appeal for lbw next ball was turned down, and just seven had come from Murtaza's over.
India, however, goofed in the 18th over. Jesuraj bowled a wide, Ambati Rayudu dropped a sitter at long-off to reprieve Nafees, only to hold onto Golam Mobad next ball, and Nafees was allowed to get back on strike for the final over. With 11 to win off six balls, Reddy let the ball go through his legs at deep midwicket first ball, and very next ball Nafees slammed six over long-off to level the scores. The third ball was driven to mid-on, and the batsmen crossed.
India had the momentum after their win against Pakistan XI yesterday but Bangladesh checked their top order after electing to field. Tapash Baisya just gave one run in his first over and had G Vignesh snapped up at third man in the fourth over. Ibrahim Khaleel was allowed to free his arms and strike a few lusty blows - the best of which was an inside-out six off Rafique - but Kapali accounted for him in his opening over, the eighth.
That wicket slowed the run rate, and Kapali and Rafique tightened up. Mosharraf Hossain was introduced in the 11tth over and struck immediately, drawing a false shot from Rayudu. In Mosharraf's second over, Hemang Badani came waltzing out only to miscue a booming drive to deep extra cover. The two batting heroes from India's win over Pakistan had fizzed.
Stuart Binny struck two sixes off Mosharraf but attempting a third, was brilliantly held by a tumbling Mabub at long-on, who dived forward and took the ball inches from the ground. Then Sathish unloaded with a series of stunning shots - deep midwicket, deep extra cover and long-on were all pinged will alarming authority. Sathish took three sixes off Mosharraf's final over, the 18th, each one hit ever so firmly. Baisya gave away seven runs in the penultimate over, dismissing Reetinder Singh Sodhi, and India lost three wickets in the final six balls. Jesuraj was run out off third ball, Sathish sliced the fifth to long-off, and Murtaza was caught short of his crease on the last. Sathish's 44 came from just 20 balls.