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The Report by Alan Gardner in Chittagong
March 18, 2014
Bangladesh 132 for 2 (Anamul 42) beat Nepal 126 for 5 (Khadka 41, Al-Amin 2-17) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pressure? Not a bit of it. Bangladesh are strutting their way through Group A with an insouciant swagger, as good as sealing a place in the tournament proper with a second emphatic display. Dismissing the challenge of Associate sides can be a damned-if-you-don't, damned-if-you-do-it-well sort of scenario but, given the team's recent form, it had been by no means guaranteed that Bangladesh would make it through the first round without any scares.
They are not through yet but with a regal-looking net run rate of 2.686 and the weakest team in the group left to play, Dhaka can begin to prepare for bumper fixtures against India and Pakistan, not to mention, West Indies, the defending champions, and Australia. Bigger exploits may still be to come.
Faced with a modest target after Nepal had gamely scrapped through their innings, losing only five wickets but always struggling to score much above six an over, Bangladesh repeated the dose they had administered to Afghanistan. Paras Khadka, Nepal's resourceful captain, scored 41 for the second match running and continued to open the bowling with his stately offspinners but this time his side were overwhelmed.
They were not totally outclassed in this match, their first encounter with a Full Member. They were, however, outgunned, in much the same way their supporters, among the most fervent around, on this occasion had to accept being outnumbered.
Al-Amin Hossain claimed 2 for 17, conceding only a couple of singles off the final over to quell any thought of a more testing total and Bangladesh's openers again attacked aggressively from the outset. Anamul Haque hit his second and third balls for six and four as 13 runs came off Sompal Kami's opening over, while Tamim Iqbal's every contribution was lapped up on his home ground.
A sumptuous strike over long-on was greeted by the word "Tamim-ator" flashing up on the big screen. When he fell after putting on 63 runs with Anamul in 7.5 overs - only the third time Bangladesh's openers had passed 50 together in T20s and their highest stand - it was almost certain Nepal would not be coming back.
Both wickets to fall were born of Bangladesh's haste to get the job done, Tamim caught giving Basant Regmi the charge and Anamul run out after a miscommunication with Sabbir Rahman, again failing to build on a promising start. The end came quickly, after Shakti Gauchan had failed with a courageous one-handed attempt to catch Rahman. Gauchan, bowling the next over, conceded 21, three times hit beyond the boundary boards, and Shakib Al Hasan sealed victory with his fourth towering six and 27 balls remaining.
As in the first match in Mirpur, Mushfiqur chose to bowl. As in the first match, a capacity crowd roared its approval at every run, wicket and catch for their luridly clad heroes. Bangladesh's kit has made quite an impression at this tournament; thankfully the team's impact has been even more noteworthy.
A seam attack of Mashrafe Mortaza and Al-Amin may not be express by absolute standards but they seemed to discomfit Nepal's openers, who were far more subdued in their second outing. There was just enough pace and movement, through the air and off the seam, to have Subash Khakurel and Sagar Pun poking uncertainly outside off, forced on to the back foot.
Mushfiqur's first bowling change brought immediate reward and he continued to deftly rotate his attack, 12 times in total. Khakurel got away with a toe-ended loft back over the new bowler, Farhad Reza, but then fell trying to take on a back of a length ball, sending it high and steepling straight to mid-off.
Shakib's first over was not so successful, as Gyanendra Malla, who struck 48 in Nepal's victory over Hong Kong, smoked him over cover to suggest that this would not be such a facile challenge for Bangladesh's spinners, after they had bamboozled Afghanistan two days ago. Shakib was later denied the wicket of Sharad Vesawkar when Mushfiqur failed to collect the ball low to his left with the batsman yards out of his ground.
Despite looking a somewhat ill at ease, at 38 for 1 after the Powerplay, Nepal were actually a couple of runs and a wicket better off than against Hong Kong. Al-Amin, switching ends, evened the gap between perception and reality with two wickets in three balls. When Pun drove on the up to be caught at cover, fireworks whistled into the night sky; moments later Malla was struck on the knee by one that darted back in. The pyrotechnics crew had not been given time to reload and they were made to wait a significant period before another salvo was required, as Khadka combined with Vesawkar in a fourth-wicket stand worth 85.
Khadka's second ball was a gorgeously timed drive through extra cover that seemed to telescope away from the sweeping fielder as he gave futile chase. In Greek mythology, it was Paris of Troy who felled the seemingly invincible Achilles with a well-aimed arrow. Paras of Nepal had a little more trouble in locating Bangladesh's weak spot but he mixed good running with deft strokeplay (and the occasional heave), again laying the foundations of Nepal's total.
As the season turns in Bangladesh, hotter temperatures meant repeated attempts to keep the grass free of dew, as hessian cloths were dragged across the outfield. But the first group stage has so far been no sweat for the hosts.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Alan Gardner
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala