Neighbourhood heroes

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Shared News| February 10, 2020 8:53:18 am
Bangladesh bowlers did a fine job of bowling out the Indian batting line-up for just 177 in 47.2 overs. (Source: ICC)

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Rakibul Hasan clipped Atharva Ankolekar towards deep mid-wicket and history was made at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom. By winning the U-19 World Cup, Bangladesh secured their maiden world title at any level. Their fans were dancing on the terraces and also way beyond that; in the aisles and arteries of Dhaka, Chittagong and Jessore.

The Bangladesh colts beat India U-19 by three wickets, with 23 balls remaining (D/L method). Their target had been revised to 170 following a 10-minute rain stoppage. Bangladesh’s captain fantastic Akbar Ali stayed till the end and anchored the tricky chase. At one stage, he played 14 dot balls on the spin.

As Ian Bishop said, ice ran through his veins. With the required run rate not an issue and rain and the Duckworth-Lewis calculation around the corner, the 18-year-old from Rangpur showed maturity beyond his years to lift his team from 102/6, after Bangladesh had been caught in a Ravi Bishnoi spin-web. Before that, he was spot on with his team selection, bowling changes and field placements to restrict India to a paltry 177.

In the grand scheme of things, Bangladesh’s title triumph is great news for the game of cricket. Not only will it boost Bangladesh’s progress on the world stage, but their success will also allow smaller nations to dream big. A proper youth structure is the platform that a cricket nation thrives on. On Sunday, Bangladesh showed that they have a brighter future to look forward to if this group of boys makes a seamless progression to the higher level.

Tempers flew after the match and the on-field tension between the two teams spilled over to the stands. It was uncalled for. The ICC will take note and the respective boards should educate their players about the importance of upholding the spirit of cricket.

Coming back to the match, India were basically done in by a batting collapse that saw them lose seven wickets for 21 runs between 39.5 and 47.2 overs. And yet, Bishnoi’s leg-spin, googlies to be precise, brought them back into the game. The Jodhpur boy accounted for Tanzid Hasan in his first over before scything through the Bangladesh middle order. Another googly castled Mahmudul Hasan Joy, the centurion in the semifinal. An over later, Towhid Hridoy fell prey to another wrong’un followed by Shahadat Hossain’s scalp, brilliantly stumped by ‘keeper Dhruv Jurel.

Bishnoi was making the ball talk and Bangladesh were under serious pressure. After six overs, the leggie’s bowling figures read 4/15. Ali decided to take him on in his seventh over and struck a couple of fours. It had come down to Ali-or-bust for Bangladesh and from India’s perspective, defending a very modest total, the leggie was their best chance.

However, India captain Priyam Garg took Bishnoi out of the attack. It was pretty average from the skipper, for had to use his best bowler through. About 20 minutes later, when Bishnoi was brought back from the other end, the initiative had been surrendered. At the U-19 level, captains can make mistakes. Help should have arrived from the Indian dug-out, from the coaching staff. Then again, Garg’s mistake wasn’t the only reason why India lost – their first defeat in U-19 World Cups in 12 matches.

The last time India had lost a match in this competition was the 2016 final against the West Indies at Dhaka.

Apart from Yashasvi Jaiswal’s brilliant 121-ball 88 and Bishnoi’s sublime spell, India were never in the game. Bangladesh new-ball bowlers, Shoriful Islam and Tanzim Hasan Sakib, showed excellent discipline to start with and India had only nine runs in the first seven overs for the loss of Divyaansh Saxena’s wicket. The latter got out trying to break the shackles.

What separated Jaiswal from the rest was his ability to pick the right deliveries to score runs. Someone who had scored a one-day double hundred earlier in the season, hitting 12 sixes against the likes of Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem, waited till the 29th over of the day to hit his first maximum. Jaiswal finished the tournament with 400 runs at an average north of 133. He ran away with the Player of the Tournament award. From now on, the journey should be onwards and upwards for the 18-year-old from Mumbai.

Jaiswal broke the seventh-wicket partnership between Ali and Parvez Emon as well, bowling his part-time leg-spin. Emon, who had retired hurt and came back hamstrung, was disconsolate on his way to the pavilion. He had let his side down. But his captain was there to see Bangladesh through. Ali’s 43 not out off 77 balls was worth its weight in gold.

India pressed the panic button once Jaiswal was out in the 40th over. A couple of run-outs were the result. And when the four-time champions bowled, they suffered from profligacy. Defending 177, India conceded 33 extras out of which 19 were wides. Fast bowlers Kartik Tyagi had an off day.

His new-ball partner Sushant Mishra wasn’t on the money either. Collectively, Bangladesh were better than their more fancied rivals. This was their cup of joy.