Sports desk, Sept 01: For New Zealand, it was the stuff nightmares are made of. They crashed and burned to 60 all out on a challenging Mirpur surface, failing to utilise their full complement of overs. While they made a good fist of it with the ball, applying the spin choke, they just didn’t have the runs on the board to give Bangladesh the jitters. The hosts overhauled the target with seven wickets in hand and five overs to spare.
There was sharp turn on offer for spinners from both sides, but the conditions weren’t unplayable. The New Zealand batters looked rusty against spin and lost so much ground early that they couldn’t make much of a mark against the pacers either.
This was Bangladesh’s first-ever victory over New Zealand in T20Is, one that helped carry forward their impressive string of home performances from last month where they beat Australia 4-1 in the T20Is.
Rachin Ravindra, on T20I debut, returned to the scene of his maiden Under-19 World Cup campaign from five years ago, looking to give New Zealand a headstart against Bangladesh’s plethora of spin options. Having played every summer in India for a better part of the past five years on raging turners, he was placed well to do so, too.
However, the pressure of an international debut can do strange things as he found out, chipping a return catch to Mahedi Hasan off the very first ball to fall for a golden duck. It was the start of a procession of wickets. Barring Colin de Grandhomme’s dismissal to a slog sweep, batter after batter failed to either pick the length or being done in sharp turn or skid off the pitch.
Will Young was bowled looking to cut Shakib Al Hasan to one that kept low, while Tom Blundell played for turn, only to beaten by an in-drifter that crashed into the stumps. New Zealand were under the pump at 9 for 4.
As long as they were there, Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls showed the top order just how they should have approached their innings. They were decisive in their footwork against spin – going either fully forward or playing right back and playing late. Latham, in particular, used his feet well to smother turn and milk the singles. The pair put together 34, the highest partnership of the innings, before Latham fell.
Having thwarted the spinners, Latham fell to a long hop, failing to control a pull that he hit straight to fine leg to give Mohammad Saifuddin his first wicket. Five balls later, New Zealand’s second debutant of the day – Cole McConchie – also fell for a duck when he chipped a tame catch to short midwicket off Shakib.
Realising he was running out of partners, Nicholls then looked to launch one down the ground off Saifuddin, only to be beaten by the slowness of the surface as he dragged one to long-on for 18. New Zealand had slumped to 49 for 7 in 13 overs. It didn’t take Mustafizur Rahman long to then clean up the lower order and finish with 3 for 13.
It was by no means a cakewalk for the hosts, but hours of training and playing on such decks meant they knew how to approach the innings. Not even two early wickets and five quiet overs had them press the panic button, especially after Ajaz Patel kept them quiet with his ripping left-arm spin, finishing his four overs with 1 for 7.
Mohammad Naim chipped one to short midwicket as offspinner McConchie struck with his first ball on T20I debut. In the next over, Liton Das was sucked into a drive, only to be beautifully deceived in flight as Latham effected a stumping to leave them 7 for 2.
Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim used their strong spin game to play the sweeps and paddles to pick off runs. Shakib cruised through to 25 before giving Ravindra his maiden international wicket when he top-edged a cut to Latham. Mahmudullah, the captain, and Mushfiqur then saw off the chase without any further hassles.