It was only the fifth T20I for the left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed, a left-arm orthodox spinner in the classical mode - the kind increasingly rare in the shortest version of cricket. But using his guile and venom to perfection, he proved that he has the ability to win games for the Tigers - even in a 4-over spell.
Nasum bagged four wickets conceding 19 runs in four overs— his career-best— against Australia in the first match of the five-match T20I series and guided the team to their maiden win against Australia in the format.
The left-arm spinner conceded a seven off his second ball of the match. Right after that, Shakib Al Hasan came to him and counseled him, from all his experience.
“When we started to defend a moderate total of 131 runs, we wanted to contain the runs,” Nasum said in a video message after the match. “Shakib and Mahmudullah guided me well. I tried to contain the runs and follow their instructions which eventually helped me a lot.”
Before this match, Bangladesh played a total of four T20Is against Australia and lost all of them. After the first innings of this match, only a few had the belief that Bangladesh could defend a total of 131 runs against a team like Australia. But Nasum said the Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah Riyad said they still have a good chance if they can bowl well.
“At the start of Australia’s innings, Mahmudullah told us that 131 can be a good total if we bowl according to a good plan. So we have tried to follow the team plan. We wanted not to concede many runs,” Nasum added.
Australia won the toss and sent Bangladesh in to bat first. The hosts ended up scoring 131 for seven in 20 overs, with Shakib scoring the highest— 36 off 33 balls.
In reply, Australia lost three wickets in the first three overs, and all were taken by the spinners. Bangladeshi spinners bowled 13 overs in this match and bagged six wickets conceding 71 runs.
Mitchell Marsh scored 45 off 45 balls with four fours and one six, and he was the highest run-getter for the visitors.
“I thought the bowlers did a terrific job to restrict them to 130. But having lost 3 for 10, I and Marsh tried to resurrect the innings but unfortunately, we couldn't do that. We have to find ways to score runs on such pitches,” Matthew Wade, the stand-in captain of Australia, told the broadcaster after the match.
While it was most certainly the spinners who rattled Australia's inexperienced batting line-up, Mustafizur Rahman was in fine rhythm as well, ending up with 2/16 off his 4 overs, the most economical of the Tigers' bowlers.
While the batting exposed some chinks, today's win rode on one of the finest all-round performances by Bangladesh on the field - all the bowlers did their job, and hardly any fielding error comes to mind. The outfielders held some good catches, while Mustafizur, the tall fast bowler, outdid himself with the catch to get rid of opposition captain Wade.
All in all, it was an inspired performance from Bangladesh, carrying on in the vein of form they found in Zimbabwe.
It has the hosts excited now about the prospect of a first bilateral series win over Australia, across any of the three versions of the game.
Who can blame them?