Mushfiqur leads by example
Mushfiqur Rahim thumped 41 not out off 26 balls to ensure his rein as Bangladesh captain got off to a perfect start with victory over West Indies in the sole Twenty20 international in Mirpur.
The diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman, who succeeded Shakib Al Hasan as skipper last month, cleared the ropes from the penultimate ball of the game as the hosts sneaked home by three wickets.
Marlon Samuels delivered a fine all-round performance for West Indies, underpinning a total of 132 for eight with a mature 42-ball 58 before returning 2-14 from four overs.
His economical spell ensured 62 runs were required from the final seven overs, but Mushfiqur kept the Tigers in the hunt before swiping a length delivery from Ravi Rampaul over deep midwicket to end the match in spectacular fashion.
Invited to bat first, West Indies were grateful for the efforts of Samuels as they scrambled to a seemingly competitive score.
After seeing Adrian Barath sky a catch to mid-on off Shakib in the fifth over, Samuels pulled his first delivery, from Rubel Hossain, over deep square-leg for six before carving the same bowler over backward point for another maximum two balls later.
Lendl Simmons got in on the act by lifting Abdur Razzak over wide long-on, but he was lbw for 23 playing back to the next delivery.
Andre Russell, surprisingly promoted to four, Darren Bravo, Danza Hyatt and skipper Darren Sammy all failed as Bangladesh’s bowlers made regular breakthroughs.
Samuels remained, however, and moved to 50 from 37 deliveries before collecting his fourth six from Shakib’s final ball.
His excellent innings was brought to an end in the last over when he was caught behind off Shafiul Islam, who also removed debutant Carlos Brathwaite to finish with 2-19. Left-arm spinners Shakib and Razzak returned 2-25 and 2-27 respectively.
Bangladesh’s run-chase started brightly, but, just as their opponents had done, they struggled in the middle overs.
Samuels’ dismissal of Mohammed Ashraful, who struck 24 off 25 balls, left the hosts in disarray on 71 for five and, although Mushfiqur appeared in good touch, Naeem Islam was then deceived by a Sammy slower ball to once again tilt the balance in the Windies’ favour.
Mushfiqur, batting calmly under increasing pressure, refused to panic, however, and his side were given a dramatic boost as Brathwaite conceded 14 runs in the 19th over, leaving just six needed.
Ravi Rampaul’s dismissal of Nasir Hossain, caught behind looking to force through the off side, raised West Indian hopes, but it was to be Mushfiqur who had the final say.