With 19 runs to defend in the last over, the left-arm quick sealed victory for Bangladesh
A different pitch in Dhaka finally allowed a good contest. It was firmer, which meant more bounce and spin and skid, but once the ball got older, life for the batter got easier. Bangladesh, who were bowling second, had to contend with dew as well, and under such circumstances, they did very well to defend a total of 141 and take a 2-0 lead in the T20I series against New Zealand.
In a twist from the established narrative, it was the fast bowlers who won it for the hosts. Mustafizur Rahman held his nerve in the last over, despite his being up against a skillful and set Tom Latham. New Zealand needed 37 off 18, and eventually six off one, and it proved beyond them.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Mahmudullah said: “It was certainly a better wicket than the previous match. There was a bit of spin and uneven bounce when we batted. It was getting better under lights so the bowlers did very well to defend 141 on this wicket.”
Having been adjudged Player of the Match, for his 32-ball unbeaten 37, Mahmudullah added that Bangladesh must get better acquainted with these high-pressure situations at the end of T20 matches, where they may need to score at breakneck speeds or defend with tigerish ferocity.
“You have to face these challenges in T20 cricket,” he said. “You may have to get 20 or 24 runs in the last two overs. At the other end, bowlers have to defend tight totals in the last one or two overs. I thought Mustafiz finished the innings brilliantly, which helped us win the game.”
The home captain also believed that the turning point of the game came right at the start, when Mohammad Naim and Liton Das put on 59 runs in the first 9.3 overs. Despite losing a cluster of wickets later, that opening stand was the foundation that helped them reach the highest T20I total in Dhaka this year.
“I think batting against the new ball is slightly more difficult in this wicket. The hard seam produces a lot more bounce. If you noticed during the Australia series, their openers didn’t provide good starts. We had a good opening stand.
“What Naim and Liton did today, was pleasant to see. It was really crucial how they found the gaps to score runs. They did exactly what we needed in the powerplay. There were a few more partnerships in the later overs. I thought 141 was a good total on this wicket.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84