Nidahas Trophy 2018: Washington Sundar's Power Play spell is SK Turning Point of the match
Unarguably, Washington Sundar has been the find of the tournament for India. The promising off-spinner continued his remarkable consistency by delivering another crucial spell in the 2018 edition of the Nidahas Trophy. As evidenced by his figures of 3/22, the 18-year-old's four overs went a long way in ensuring India's 17-run victory against Bangladesh.
Considering the fact that all matches in the T20I tri-series have been played at the same venue, it did not come across as a surprise when the surface at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo became sluggish and conducive for spin.
Surprisingly, Bangladesh decided to bowl first upon winning the toss. Riding on skipper Rohit Sharma's commendable 61-ball 89 as well as handy contributions from Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, India amassed a strong total of 176.
Fresh off a historic run-chase against hosts Sri Lanka in their previous encounter, Bangladesh would have fancied their chances despite the relatively slower nature of the pitch. However, Washington Sundar's spell of 3/18 from three overs inside the Power Play enabled India to control the proceedings.
Sundar spins it India's way
As he had done in the preceding matches in the tournament, Rohit opted for a seam and spin combination with the new ball. Following a reasonably good opening over from Mohammed Siraj, Sundar was introduced into the attack from the other end.
There was plenty of action right from the outset. Sundar's first delivery evoked a vociferous leg-before appeal from the Indian fielders. However, upon further inspection through DRS, the ball appeared to have struck the pad comfortably outside the line.
Sundar got his man quite soon when Liton Das inexplicably danced down the track. With the opener revealing his move a lot earlier than necessary, the off-spinner adjusted his trajectory to beyond the batsman's reach. Anticipating the wider delivery, Dinesh Karthik completed a neat stumping.
Tamim Iqbal led Bangladesh's counter-punch. The experienced left-hander smashed three boundaries and a six off a wayward Shardul Thakur over. His uninhibited assault reverted the pressure on the Indians.
Showing no game awareness whatsoever, Soumya Sarkar's attempt at an almighty heave resulted in his downfall. Sundar had targeted the stumps and sent down a quicker one. The off-spinner picked up a couple of early breakthroughs at the cost of just nine runs from his first two overs.
In the last over of the Power Play, Sundar prised out the key scalp of Tamim. Initially, he kept the southpaw guessing by varying his line and flight. Realising that the batsman was targeting the long leg boundary, the off-spinner utilised the angle to drift one towards the pads and found the leg-stump.
Bangladesh crumble around valiant Mushfiqur
At the end of the six-over mark, Bangladesh were at 48/3. While the required run-rate was a notch above nine, the loss of their top three batsmen made the equation seem a lot more difficult.
With just a scratchy Sabbir Rahman for company, Mushfiqur Rahim took it upon himself to bring Bangladesh back into the game. The in-form wicket-keeper batsman took the attack to the Indian bowlers whenever he got the opportunity. Siraj bore the brunt of his onslaught.
However, Rohit rotated his bowlers smartly and ensured that they adhered to their plans. Their variations prevented the Bangladeshi batsmen from breaking the shackles. They stitched together priceless dot balls and piled the pressure on their opponents.
When 61 runs were needed from the last five overs, Sundar was brought back to complete his spell. He conceded just four runs from his final over and ensured that the required run-rate was driven up to unmanageable levels.
Shardul Thakur's intelligent mix of knuckle balls and quicker seam-ups allowed India to remain on top of the situation. Despite Mushfiqur's earnest effort, Bangladesh fell short by 17 runs in the end.
Having received the Player of the Match award, captain Rohit was effusive in praise for Sundar. Acknowledging the significance of those three early wickets, he termed the off-spinner's spell as 'magical'. While India booked their place in the final, Bangladesh will battle it out with Sri Lanka on Friday for the other spot in the title clash.