Mon, 27 Sep 2021

Afif Hossain steers the chase as Bangladesh 2-0 up

ESPNCricInfo
05 Aug 2021, 04:44 GMT+10

Bangladesh 123 for 5 (Afif 37*) beat Australia 121 for 7 (Marsh 45, Mustafizur 3-23) by five wicketsYou wait years for a T20 victory over Australia then two come along at once. Bangladesh stumbled but eventually found composure in their chase to take a 2-0 lead in Dhaka with Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan guiding them home with eight balls to spare.The pitch - a new one - was again slow, although looked rather less slow when Mitchell Starc was racing in with the new ball after Australia's batting had laboured to post 121, in which Mustafizur Rahman was outstanding. At 67 for 5 the chase was wobbling significantly but with such a small target, the required rate was never an issue and the sixth-wicket pair managed to show a calmness that had eluded a few others.After struggling in the Powerplay, Australia had given themselves a foundation to launch in the closing overs with a stand of 57 between Mitchell Marsh and Moises Henriques, and with a fair wind 140 would have been achievable. However, the innings almost went into reverse after Shakib Al Hasan removed Henriques, and when Marsh edged behind it meant there wasn't a set batter for the final push. The last five overs brought 31 for 4.Mustafizur's fizz

If you want an in-depth look at the story of Mustafizur's career then read this. Suffice to say this was the type of performance that made his name. His 3 for 23 were his best figures in T20Is since 2017 and the third best of his career. Effectively a fast spinner most of the time, Australia's batters had all sorts of problems facing his brisk cutters that gripped on the surface. He completely befuddled Josh Philippe with a short delivery that held in the surface and dipped slowly under the bat, so much so that Philippe could almost turn and watch it take leg stump. It was wonderful deception. Later in the innings he knocked back Matthew Wade's leg stump then found himself on a hat-trick when the next delivery spat at Ashton Agar and took the glove. It was Bangladesh's two left-arm seamers who did most of the damage as Mustafizur and Shoriful Islam claimed 5 for 50 between them.Mahedi's charmed life

At one point during the chase, the camera picked out a cat roaming around the empty stands. It is arguable whether it or Mahedi Hasan had more lives. At times there was a rather frenetic nature to Bangladesh's chase, not least when Mahedi kept lofting deliveries tantalisingly out of reach of Australia's fielders. On at least four occasions he evaded fielders, although when he did middle one off Adam Zampa it went a long way back into the stands. When he fell, missing a wild charge at Zampa, it was the third wicket for nine runs in three overs as Australia pressed hard. That had included the key duo of Shakib, playing across the line to Andrew Tye, and captain Mahmudullah dragging on against Agar.Closing it out

Afif had provided some late impetus in yesterday's match with the highest strike-rate among Bangladesh's batters, but this was an even better innings. There had been some doubt as to whether there would be DRS for this series and Afif was left grateful there was when he was given lbw to Marsh on 1 only for replays to show it pitched outside leg. In the 13th over he took advantage of a seventh delivery from Tye to clear the leg side for six, and bring the requirement back under a run-a-ball, although he saved his best for a sublime cover drive off Starc. Nurul played a vital hand and victory then rushed into view as Afif hit three boundaries in seven balls.Afif HossainNurul HasanMustafizur RahmanBangladeshAustraliaBangladesh vs AustraliaAustralia in Bangladesh

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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