Dhawan, Dhoni set up consolation win
Fifties from Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni set India up for their best batting performance of the ODI series and gave them the consolation of avoiding a 3-0 Bangladesh. Chasing 318 – it would have been their second-highest successful chase had they pulled it off – Bangladesh made an encouraging start but lost too many wickets by the 30th over to stay in contention. The 77-run loss meant Bangladesh’s winning streak at home stopped at 10 matches.
Dhawan stroked a 73-ball 75 and Dhoni, batting at No. 4 for the second match running, made a 77-ball 69 that saw India through the middle overs. Together, they laid the platform for the lower middle order, led by Suresh Raina, to smash 50 off the last five overs. Raina made a telling contribution with the ball as well, dismissing Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan on his way to a three-wicket haul.
At the start of their batting Powerplay, Bangladesh needed 116 to win from 90 balls, but only had four wickets in hand. The end took its time coming, with Arafat Sunny blocking his way to an unbeaten 40-ball 14, but three overs still remained when they were bowled out. Despite the margin of defeat, Bangladesh still had positives to take in the continuing excellence of Mustafizur Rahman and sparkling knocks from Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman.
The languid Sarkar attacked from the start, striking Stuart Binny for three fours and a six in two overs – the best of his shots a back-foot punch stroked in front of point – and greeting Umesh Yadav with two fours in his first over. Despite the loss of Tamim Iqbal in the second over of the innings – Dhawal Kulkarni getting him lbw by nipping one back from around the wicket – Bangladesh seemed well on course as they raced past 50 in the seventh over. Sarkar played one shot too many, though, and miscued Kulkarni to mid-on in the tenth over.
The run rate never really dipped even after that, as Mushfiqur, Shakib, Sabbir and Nasir Hossain all got off to brisk starts. None of them got to 50, though, and when Binny bowled Sabbir for 43 in the 33rd over, he ended the last threatening phase of the Bangladesh innings, a sixth-wicket stand of 49 in 29 balls with Nasir.
Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, chose to bowl with the threat of rain in mind, and his young new-ball partner Mustafizur settled into a lovely rhythm straightaway, bothering Rohit Sharma with his angle and changes of pace. The runs came briskly at the other end, though, and Rohit had moved to 29 when Mustafizur dismissed him for the third time in the series. Having already beaten him twice with his cutter, he found his edge through to the keeper simply by virtue of his length and left-arm angle, which drew Rohit into an angled-bat drive.
Much like Rohit, Virat Kohli got to a start before getting out to an unwise shot. He had moved to 25 – quietly, but that wasn’t an issue with Dhawan scoring freely at the other end – when he was bowled attempting a slog sweep off Shakib Al Hasan, soon after he had been brought on in the 20th over.
Dhoni began his innings with nine dots in ten balls before deciding to have a go at the spinners. Stepping down the track, he swiped Nasir Hossain into the gap at deep square leg before launching the next ball hard and flat over cow corner. The next two overs brought two more fours, a pull in front of square off Rubel Hossain showing a flash of the old Dhoni, feet in midair as he swung his body violently through the stroke.
At the other end Dhawan was finding the gaps with crisp precision, and had picked up three fours in three overs with drives and punches in the arc between point and mid-off when he picked out short midwicket off Mashrafe in the 27th over. India were 158 for 3 at that point, going along at close to six an over. The top order had given the innings impetus; Dhawan’s dismissal raised the question of whether the middle order could carry it forward.
Without really getting on top of the bowling, Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu managed to maintain the run rate. The early momentum ensured that a quiet batting Powerplay – taken in the 33rd over, it fetched India 28 runs – served as a decent build-up period for the last 10 overs.
Rayudu never looked entirely convincing – he miscued Mustafizur and Mashrafe in the air, only for the ball to pop into vacant parts of the outfield – but kept the strike rotating well enough to move to 44 off 48 before he was given out caught behind even though the ball had only brushed his thigh pad when he tried to lap-sweep Mashrafe.
The dismissal brought Raina to the crease in ideal circumstances, with 6.3 overs to go and license to play his shots. He wasted no time in getting going, lofting his second ball over the covers for four and slogging a full-toss for a six in the next over, and ran away to 38 off 20 before Mustafizur beat his attempted leg-side heave with another brilliantly concealed slower ball in the 49th over.
That wicket meant Mustafizur finished the series with 13, the most by any bowler in a three-match ODI series. His final figures of 2 for 57 were misleading, since all three fours he conceded in his last two overs came via miscues and edges, and his nervelessness and control during the Powerplays and the death only added further lustre to a spectacular debut series.