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West Indies prevail in final-ball thriller to keep title defence alive

West Indies prevail in final-ball thriller to keep title defence alive
October 29, 2021 --- Web Desk

DUBAI – West Indies picked up their first win while Bangladesh slipped to their third straight loss of the Super 12 stage at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021.

Liton Das and Mahmud Ullah led a spirited Bangladesh chase of 143, which left them needing 13 off the final over and four off the final ball. But Andre Russell drew on his experience to deny them as West Indies picked up a vital three-run win.

With this loss at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Bangladesh's hopes of progressing in the tournament look bleak.

West Indies had the power-hitting of Nicholas Pooran and Jason Holder to thank for giving them those crucial runs on the board to defend. Their 142/7 had been an innings of two halves. While their first 10 overs featured just two boundaries, both fours, their last 10 got them 94 runs, with seven sixes lighting up the final five.

Openers fall early

In a tournament where teams chasing have been most successful so far, Bangladesh were quick to put the defending champions in to bat after winning the toss.

West Indies made changes to their stuttering batting line-up, dropping opener Lendl Simmons, pushing Chris Gayle back up to open and bringing in Roston Chase at No.3 for his T20I debut. However, it didn't change their Powerplay fortunes.

Both openers fell early, as West Indies found themselves 18/2 in 4.2 overs, and could only get to 29/2 when the fielding restrictions were in place.  

Evin Lewis tried to go leg side to Mustafizur Rahman, only to sky on and hand square leg a simple catch. The left-hander Gayle, who had survived a run-out chance, was then undone by the off-spin of Mahedi Hasan, edging onto his stumps.

Mahedi, who dropped a straightforward catch of Chase off his own bowling, had Shimron Hetmyer out the very next ball, caught a few metres from the straight boundary.

West Indies could only limp to 48/3 at the halfway stage.

Pooran and Holder accelerate

Chase continued to anchor, but captain Kieron Pollard struggled to get going and retired hurt in the 13th over.

The West Indies' day went from bad to worse when Russell was run out in freakish fashion the very next ball, with Taskin Ahmed getting a toe to a Chase drive to deflect the ball onto the stumps and run Russell out at the non-striker's end without facing a single delivery.

But the deep batting line-up meant there was still hope for the West Indies, and it was Pooran who delivered the innings that his side desperately needed.

Coming in at No.7, he smashed four sixes in his 40 off just 22 deliveries, before falling to Shoriful Islam.

Holder, making his first appearance of the tournament after being drafted in as an injury replacement, kept the momentum up with a quickfire 15 off 5 at the end of the innings to keep the match competitive.

Shakib's struggles

Shakib Al Hasan, who appeared to have injured his leg in the first innings, joined Mohammad Naim to open Bangladesh's chase. The move was so that the all-rounder, who was struggling to run, could capitalise on the fielding restrictions and attack the boundaries.

However, he did not last long in the middle. Russell, brought in as the first change bowler, struck in the fifth over to have him caught by Holder inside the circle.  

Holder had a more direct role to play in the next wicket, as Mohammad Naim chopped on.

Das takes the game deep

At the halfway mark, Bangladesh were ahead of where the West Indies were, but still had a hill to climb.

Soumya Sarkar, back in the XI for this match, looked in decent touch in trying to rebuild the innings, but gave Akeal Hosein a well-earned wicket, while Mushfiqur too was bowled after playing a few good-looking cut shots.

Das, though, kept the runs coming, even as wickets fell around him. The 12th over, bowled by Dwayne Bravo, went for 15 runs to release some pressure. Mahmud Ullah too, meanwhile, found the gaps.

A six down the ground from the skipper to start the 19th over from Bravo kept them in the chase. But the experienced West Indian fought back to have Das caught in the final ball of the over by the tall Holder at the boundary.

Russell holds his nerve

Without the injured Pollard on the field, it was up to Pooran to marshal the bowlers.

With 13 needed off the last six balls, Russell did not give away any boundaries. However, as the pressure told on the fielders, the batters managed seven from the first four balls, also capitalising on a dropped catch in the deep.

With four needed off the final ball, and Mahmud Ullah on strike, Russell sent down a full ball. The batter, looking for a boundary, could not make contact, and the West Indies celebrations began.-ICC