Zampa, Khawaja tame the Bangla Tigers : The much awaited clash between Australia and Bangladesh happened at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.
Steve Smith was to have led a full strength Aussie team to Bangladesh for a bilateral series, post taking over as the Test skipper from Michael Clarke at the conclusion of Ashes 2015. Ironically that series did not come through. The teams got an opportunity to face each other in the ongoing World T20 series.
Both the teams had lost their opening encounter and this game was a ‘must win’ for both. New Zealand got the better of the Aussies while Pakistan put Bangladesh ‘in their place’.
Winning the toss, Aussies opted to field on a strip which had a lot to offer for the spinners.
While Shane Watson accounted for Soumya Sarkar (1) and Sabbir Rehman (12) by the beginning of the sixth over, it was the leg-spinner, Adam Zampa, who inflicted the maximum damage on the Bangla batsmen.
The third-wicket partnership between Mohammad Mithun (23) and the all-rounder Shaib al Hasan (33) realised 37 runs in 4.1 overs and the unbroken partnership for the sixth wicket between Mahmadullah (49*) and Mushfiqur Rahim (15*) produced 51* runs in 4.4 overs.
These two partnerships helped Bangladesh put up 156 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 20 overs.
Mahmadullah slammed a 29-ball 49 runs that was studded with 7 fours and a six, missing a well-deserved half-century very narrowly.
From 64 runs for the loss of 3 wickets after 10 overs, they went on to add another 92 runs in the next ten overs scoring at a rate of 9.2 runs an over, losing 2 wickets in the process.
Zampa finished with the figures of 4-0-23-3.
Chasing a target of 157, the openers Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson gave a wonderful start scoring 51 runs in the first six overs of power-play.
The duo stayed together until in the third delivery of the eighth over, Watson pulled a short one from Shuvagata Som to the deep midwicket and set for a run. Watson turned and called for a second which was a very risky one. Sabbir Rehman sent in a sharp return to the wicket-keeper who made no mistake in dislodging the bails while Watson fell short of reaching the crease by a yard. The duo had put in 62 runs for the first-wicket.
Watson scored 21 runs off 15 deliveries with 2 fours and a six. Steven Smith (14) and later David Warner (17) started off well but did not last long.
Meanwhile Khawaja, holding onto one end kept the scoreboard moving. He brought up his maiden T20I half-century in the fifth delivery of the tenth over by way of a boundary off Shuvagata Som, as he moved from 47 to 51 runs. He took 37 deliveres to reach the landmark.
Australia had scored 82 runs for the loss of 1 wicket at that stage, needing 75 runs from 60 deliveries.
The first delivery of the 14th over bowled by Al Amin on the leg, which Khawaja wanted to steer towards the fine leg, could not connect and found his leg stump being knocked over. He departed at a personal score of 58 runs off 45 deliveries with 7 fours and a six. Australia’s score at that stage was 115 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. They were trailing by just 42 runs.
Glenn Maxwell (26), Mitchell Marsh (6), and James Faulkner (5), ensured that they crossed the line with three wickets in hand and 9 deliveries to spare.
Adam Zampa was awarded the Player of the Match.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, Zampa said. “Nice to make a bit of a difference. After a disappointing loss to New Zealand, nice to get the the tournament rolling. Playing in the BBL, 80,000 people, I”m used to it. I”ve played three or four games here now, its a learning curve. Just getting used to the length and the pace and to different players and their areas. We”ve had a bit of travel, off to Mohali now and we”ll be there for a week, that”ll be nice.”
“First six overs was crucial, we knew this ground was high-scoring. Our fielding and bowling could have been better. Mahmudullah played really well, Mithun and Shakib too,” said the Bangladesh skipper, Mashrafe. “Two losses in a row, but we have two matches left and we”ll see what happens” he added.
Asked whether he expected the match to be so close, the Aussie skipper, Steven Smith said, “Don”t know about that, we made it difficult at the end and Bangladesh bowled quite well in the middle overs. it was about the top four going on and get a not out and making it more clinical. We haven”t been good enough in the middle overs. We”ve had a bit of travel, but its not an excuse. Pakistan and India play well in these conditions and we have to do better. They”re different, the pitches weren”t like this in the IPL. Our players have to adapt better.”
Bangladesh face the hosts India in their next encounter, while Australia take on Pakistan.