'I kept telling myself I can do this' - Mehidy Hasan Miraz
Match-winner says Mustafizur's approach "allowed me to shape my game plan. Who to attack, when to attack"
Mehidy Hasan Miraz stood in the middle of the Shere Bangla National Stadium, surrounded by India fielders just waiting for the final wicket to fall. At the other end, he had No. 11 Mustafizur Rahman, batting average of 6.30. Bangladesh needed 51 runs. They had a lot of overs in hand but they had just lost their last five wickets for eight runs. A portion of the full-house crowd had left. An India win was writ large in Dhaka.
But this is 2022, a year in which Mehidy has been involved in a few miracles. He was part of the team that beat New Zealand in the Mount Maunganui Test. Mehidy and Afif Hossain rescued Bangladesh from 45 for 6 against Afghanistan. Mehidy took four wickets in an ODI in South Africa when Bangladesh got into a tough spot. These events have shaped his mind in a way that even in such a desperate situation against India on Sunday, he felt he could do it.
When the last recognised batter Afif fell with 53 runs remaining, Mehidy had plotted his partnerships with the long tail. And when Ebadot Hossain and Hasan Mahmud fell for ducks, he didn't stop believing.
"Maybe people will call me pagol (mad) but I had the honest belief that we could win," Mehidy said. "I only focused on winning the game. I kept telling myself that I can do this. I thought I'd score 15 runs with Ebadot, 20 runs with Hasan Mahmud and the remaining 15-20 runs with Mustafiz. But two quick wickets meant that it was a do-or-die situation with the last wicket remaining. I had to take calculated risks. Mustafiz's words really stayed with me. It gave me more belief."
Mustafizur told me, "You don't worry about me. I will stop the ball at my end. I will take balls on the body, but I won't get out."Mehidy Hasan Miraz
It all kicked off when he swatted debutant Kuldeep Sen for two sixes in the 41st over. He swung a few wildly, even getting dropped by KL Rahul, but then when he saw Mustafizur handle the bowling properly, Mehidy went after Deepak Chahar for three fours in the 44th over. It reduced the runs remaining to 14, and that's when it got serious.
"If I thought that we would lose or we won't be able to get the remaining runs, it wouldn't have worked out like this," Mehidy said. "It was definitely a do-or-die situation. There was no problem to get out trying to hit out. When we needed 50 runs, I took the chances. It came off.
"But when we needed 14 or 10 runs, then I got really excited. We have lost a lot of close matches, but Mustafiz kept giving me encouragement. He told me, 'don't hurry, don't try to hit a six. You bat along the ground, we will get the runs'. I was very clear with my game plan. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I think that helped out also."
What really helped Mehidy was how Mustafizur stood confidently at the other end, even starting off a four through the covers, Bangladesh's first boundary since the 23rd over.
"Mustafiz is my good friend," Mehidy said. "He supported me a lot. One thing that stood out was his confidence. He kept telling me, 'You don't worry about me. I will stop the ball at my end. I will take balls on the body, but I won't get out'. His confidence rubbed off on me.
"He kept telling me not to worry about him. A batter would always worry about the tailender. If he gets out, it's all over. But his approach allowed me to shape my game plan. Who to attack, when to attack. I didn't go after every ball. I did sky a couple, but they couldn't take the chances. You are bound to get out if you are trying to hit every ball. Calculative risk helped out."
The crucial moment was when the scores were tied. Mehidy was on strike. He turned the ball through the covers and took off in celebration. It was reminiscient of last February when Afif and Mehidy walked off with wide smiles after their heist against Afghanistan. Mehidy, though, feels this one against India was more important. "Both were important knocks but this is more special. This was the last wicket, we needed 51 runs. This was definitely more special."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84