Bangalore: That Hardik Pandya bowled the last over was more by accident than design. With Bangladesh seemingly in control of the chase, MS Dhoni had to bowl out his strike bowlers to try and keep his side in the game.
Hardik Pandya celebrates after India beat Bangladesh in a World T20 match at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday. Pic/PTI
He had gone for 20 in his first two overs, and been distinctly unlucky. In the first, Sabbir Rahman top-edged a hook for four, before a wild flail went off the outside edge past where first slip might have been. Shakib Al Hasan slashed the third ball of his second over to deep point, but R Ashwin, running in from a sweeper position, couldn’t hold on. Shakib celebrated the reprieve with the sweetest of leg-side sixes.
“Pressure was quite high, but I had to be calm,” said Pandya when asked what was going through his mind when he got the ball for the final over. There was little calm about the first three balls. After Mahmudullah had taken a single, Mushfiqur Rahim smashed a wide ball through cover for four.
The next was scooped, without the best connection, past Dhoni for four more. Mushfiqur pumped his fists, screamed with joy and appeared fairly certain that the game was won. The requirement was just two from three balls.
Following a long discussion with his captain, Pandya’s next ball was short and slow. Mushfiqur hit out again, but instead of clearing the rope, the ball ballooned to Shikhar Dhawan at deep midwicket. Mushfiqur was on his way, but with the batsmen having crossed, Mahmudullah, who seldom gets flustered, was on strike. Two from two.
Mahmudullah, like Mushfiqur before him, also eyed the midwicket boundary. He too miscued his shot, but Ravindra Jadeja, running in from the rope, still had much ground to cover.
He did, taking as fine a catch as you’ll see under pressure. Cue another lengthy conference between Dhoni, Pandya and others. “I was laughing at a point, I got so much advice,” said Pandya. “One of the advice, I (followed), and that paid off.”
That advice was to bowl back of a length to Shuvagata Hom, who had done so much to derail the Indian innings by dismissing the in-form Virat Kohli. Hom missed, and Dhoni – as streetsmart a cricketer as any to have played the game – took no chance with a shy at the stumps. He had already taken a glove off in anticipation, and he sprinted to the stumps and dislodged the bails before Mustafizur Rahman could make his ground. India victorious by a run.
Afterwards, Pandya was far from satisfied with the performance. “We have defended (it), so obviously (146) was a defendable score,” he said. “But as a batting unit … I got out at a crucial point (after making 15 from seven balls). I should have carried on,” he said.