‘Fearless cricket’, Bangladesh praised after India near-miss

“We were close but in the end India was on winning side”

COLOMBO: Indian captain Rohit Sharma (L) receives the Nidahas Twenty20 Tri-Series international cricket trophy at the end of the final Nidahas Twenty20 Tri-Series international cricket match between India and Bangladesh in Colombo. — AFP

COLOMBO: India captain Rohit Sharma praised Bangladesh for their “fearless cricket” after the Twenty20 minnows came within one ball of a shock victory in the tri-series final in Colombo. Tenth-ranked Bangladesh pushed their illustrious neighbours all the way in Sunday’s final before wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik smashed a six off the last ball to secure a four-wicket win.

With the packed 20,000 crowd cheering India, in anger at Bangladesh’s tactics in the semi-final, Karthik’s eight-ball 29 clinched it after a tense, 167-run chase that saw Bangladesh concede 35 runs off the final two overs. But Sharma, who gave his team a blazing start with a 42-ball 56, said Bangladesh were a “very good team” who have vastly improved over the past three years.

“(Bangladesh) play fearless cricket, it’s always good. Sometimes, it can bite you when things don’t go your way but that is the style of cricket they want to play,” Sharma told reporters after the final. “They are certainly a very good team… in the last three years, we’ve seen how they’ve changed their style of cricket.

“A few of the guys who are experienced are nurturing the younger guys.” Sharma said the unusual Sri Lankan support for his team had been “very crucial” at the R. Premadasa Stadium.

Home fans were angry at Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan briefly withdrawing his batsmen in the final over of their win over Sri Lanka in protest at an umpiring decision.

“We didn’t feel that we were playing outside India,” the captain said. “They supported us throughout the course of 40 overs.”

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, who registered two half-centuries in the series, senior batsman Mahmudullah and skipper Shakib Al Hasan played key roles as the Tigers beat hosts Sri Lanka twice to book the title clash with third-ranked India.

Bangladesh’s Rubel Hossain, who sent down the 19th over in the final that conceded 22 runs, and Soumya Sarkar, who was entrusted with the final six balls which went for 13, were the unfortunate bowlers on the receiving end of Karthik’s explosive innings.

But Sharma had comforting words for Soumya, an occasional medium-pace bowler, after his final ball disappeared for six as Karthik took India to 168 for 6. Soumya conceded just seven runs from his first four deliveries and then had Vijay Shankar caught at long-on with the fifth, leaving India needing five runs.

But his wide half-volley was drilled over the extra cover rope by Karthik as the India dressing room erupted in wild celebrations. “We always knew Soumya Sarkar is not a premier bowler. He’s a part-time bowler at the most,” said Sharma.
“It can happen to anyone when you bowl those big overs. It’s never easy at the death. The pressure is always on the bowler not the batsman,” he added. Shakib also lauded the performance of his team, who have never won a T20 match against India in eight meetings so far and have also lost 11 of their last 14 games in the shortest format.

“We were very close but in the end India was on the winning side. Credit goes to them but we cannot take anything away from us for the way we played throughout this tournament,” said Shakib. “We have showed some good character and played the game in the right spirit  and I cannot ask more than that from my team,” the all-rounder added.

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