India vs Bangladesh 2019: Mushfiqur Rahim's excellence helps Bangladesh clinch maiden T20I victory over India
Having encountered several nerve-racking defeats over the years, underdogs Bangladesh trounced India in the T20I series opener at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi to pick up a 7-wicket win, and in the process, notched up their first T20I victory over the hosts.
The low-scoring affair almost rekindled memories of the clash between the two sides at Bangalore back in 2016, where the hosts snatched an improbable victory from the jaws of defeat - courtesy a dreadful error at the eleventh hour from the visitors.
However, this time around, a couple of lapses at crucial junctures from India saw the hosts gift their neighbours a landmark triumph.
Indian batsmen struggle on a 'sticky' wicket
Opting to field first after winning the toss, Bangladesh couldn't have hoped for a better start to the night's proceedings. Skipper Rohit Sharma was trapped in front by Shafiul Islam's jagging nip-backer on the final delivery of the first over.
The characteristic sluggish nature of the pitch brought about KL Rahul's downfall, who lobbed a gentle catch to Mahmudullah at short cover off Aminul Islam. Next in batsman, Shreyas Iyer flexed his muscles for a couple of audacious strikes before holding out to Mohammed Naim at long-off.
India had barely recuperated after being 69/2 from 10 overs when a horrible miscommunication produced yet another dismissal. Called through for a quick double by Rishabh Pant who eventually turned down the run mid-stride, a perplexed Shikhar Dhawan found himself in no man's land and was miserably run-out for a tentative 41.
Shivam Dubey endured a forgettable debut, perishing cheaply to off-spinner Afif Hussain, who jumped up and took a brilliant single-handed return catch. Pant garnered some valuable runs for the side before miscuing a hoick straight down the throat of long-on. Blistering cameos from Krunal Pandya (15* off 8 balls) and Washington Sundar (14* off 5 balls) eventually propelled India to a defendable target of 149.
Bangladesh batsmen make a strong impression
Early breakthroughs were of paramount importance for the hosts, and Deepak Chahar shouldered the responsibility by removing Liton Das, who chipped a tame slash to Rahul at cover-point in the first over.
However, anchoring the resurgence, debutant Mohammad Naim grew in confidence with elegant flicks and majestic drives. He found ideal support in Soumya Sarkar, who manoeuvred the tweakers dexterously while collecting boundaries with relative ease. Just when the partnership was beginning to flourish, leggie Yuzvendra Chahal outfoxed the debutant with a tossed-up googly.
The Indian spinners operated magnificently in tandem to tighten the screws in the middle phase of the game. Forthwith, Sarkar was castled by Khaleel Ahmed while attempting a square cut off a deceptive slower ball. Mushfiqur Rahim was also handed a reprieve off Chahal in the 17th over, with Pandya being the culprit at the square-leg fence.
Indian fans must have perceived a slim chance when the equation boiled down to 22 from the final two overs. But four consecutive boundaries from Rahim in the penultimate over quashed any hopes of a miraculous turnaround. In the end, the visitors' skipper Mahmudullah smoked a colossal tonk over the mid-wicket fielder that brought about his side's victory in an emphatic fashion.
Brief scores: India 148/6 in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 41, Rishabh Pant 27; Aminul Islam 2-22) lost to Bangladesh 154/3 in 19.3 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 60* Soumya Sarkar 39; Yuzvendra Chahal 1-24) by seven wickets.