Another major international cricketing event, another disappointing result for Bangladesh. This time, the team couldn't recreate the magic of Adelaide from 2015, where the team had beaten England to qualify for the quarter finals. This time, on the same ground, they were up against the old nemesis, India. And they came a cropper. But the manner in which it happened means it is destined to stay on fans' minds for a long time to come.
That Litton Das run out. How long are we destined to talk about it? In Dhaka, in Chattogram, in Sylhet. And various cities around the world of the diaspora.
India had made a commanding total of 184 for 6, thanks mainly to a superlative return to form for KL Rahul (50 off 32), and another chapter in Virat Kohli's spectacular form, as he made 66 no out off 44. Suryakumar Yadav's 30 off 16 helped too.
But when Litton blasted seven fours and three sixes inside the first seven overs, Bangladesh had an excellent foundation. They were 66 for no loss when rains interrupted and curtailed the match. At that time, Najmul Hossain Shanto (Litton's opening partner), was seven off 16.
They should have been confident of scoring the 85 needed off the last nine overs (54 balls) upon resumption with the revised target, particularly as the field was likely to be greasy following the downpour. But when Shanto called for a tight second, two balls into resumption, Litton's spikes failed to adequately grip the damp surface he was running on, and he was out by about a metre to an outstanding KL Rahul direct hit, from just beyond midwicket.
Bangladesh lost their way after that, even if Taskin, who had been outstanding with the ball, and Nurul rallied slightly towards the end to keep the last over interesting. They lost six wickets for 40 runs, in 33 deliveries. Nurul did his best to perform a miracle, but his 25 off 14 was not enough. Arshdeep Singh delivered excellent yorkers at the death, and India secured a hard-fought five-run victory, to take them to the top of Group 2.
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan refused to complain about resuming the game too early, and instead said that they panicked while chasing the DLS-adjusted target, which he felt most teams would have done.
Bangladesh had India rattled in the chase, thanks to the stunning assault from Litton Das who had raced away to 59 off 26 when rain interrupted their charge. Their 66 for 0 in seven overs was 17 ahead of the DLS par score. When play resumed, Das slipped twice when running on the first two balls. The second of those cost him his wicket after which Bangladesh fell six short of the required 85 in nine overs.
"Nobody in our dressing room talked about fair or unfair," Shakib said about the resumption of play. "We wanted to play. We wanted to win. Everyone tried their best, but we came short."
Shakib was asked looking at how the initial conditions were slippery did he wish they had started 10-15 minutes later? "That is the decision umpires make," Shakib said. "We don't make that decision. We are there to play cricket. Both teams wanted to play full 20 overs. Unfortunately rain interrupted. I am happy the way both teams played. It was played in the right spirit. Both teams played really well, we were very close like the 2016 World Cup, but not close enough."
So were the conditions slippery when they resumed? "It was a little slippery the amount of rain it had had," Shakib said. "But normally that suits the batting side rather than the bowling side. We should not make that an excuse."
Shakib even said Das could have shown better awareness after he slipped for the first time, and that he should perhaps have run on the edge of the pitch and not the grass. While taking the second, Das slipped but didn't fall like the first time when he even injured his wrist. However, the time he lost was enough for a KL Rahul direct hit from the deep to catch him short.
"It was unfortunate that Litton slipped, but I don't know if he ran on the pitch or in the grass between the pitches," Shakib said. "If he had run on the grass, he should have been careful and run on the pitch the next time."
Shakib was asked if it was lack of experience or an emotional response that they played too many shots immediately after resumption. "Combination of both lack of experience and panicking," Shakib said. "We were pretty relaxed in the dressing room. We knew what was coming our way. When we got the target of 85 runs in nine overs, we [said we] will take that. With wickets in hand. Bhuvi was almost done too [Bhuvneshwar Kumar had bowled three overs by then]. You take that challenge, and chase that down. Unfortunately, we couldn't do it."
At one stage it was down to 52 required off five overs with eight wickets in hand. "Most teams would have got those 52 runs," Shakib said. "We should have chased it down. I thought we were capable. It didn't happen unfortunately. Maybe we panicked in the middle order, playing too many shots. We lost the momentum big time in two-three overs. Nurul and Taskin almost brought us back into contention later on. T20 matches change every over. If you look at the last two overs, many teams can now get 30 in the last two overs. We couldn't do it, but we can take a lot of positives from this game."
The turning point
Litton Das had really set Bangladesh up for something special, till the rain came. Then he got out in an incredibly frustrating manner, which he bore little blame for, according to most observers.
The game was on when he hit Arshdeep for three fours in the second over - the first past backward point, the second down the ground, the third crashed through extra-cover.
He was treating the bowlers with disdain. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got pulled into the stand beyond deep square-leg. Then, the best shot of the game, perhaps, came: Litton got low and scooped Bhuvneshwar over the shoulder for six in the bowler's next over.
But then, second ball after resumption, he ran a second upon his partner Shanto's insistence, and he slipped on the now-damp surface, causing him to lose valuable metres. The direct hit from Rahul caught him a metre short. This was when the chase turned.
Before Litton was run-out, Bangladesh struck 67 from 43 deliveries, and they'd lost no wickets. In the 34 balls after he got out (not including the dismissal delivery), Bangladesh lost five wickets and made only 40 runs. This essentially, was where Bangladesh truly lost it - Arshdeep and Hardik Pandya bowling double-wicket overs.
Following the match, Nurul Hasan Sohan claimed that the on-field umpires had missed an incident of "fake fielding" from Virat Kohli, which could have resulted in five potentially crucial penalty runs for Bangladesh.
The incident in question took place in the seventh over of Bangladesh's chase at Adelaide Oval, just before the rain came, when Litton Das played the ball towards the deep off-side field off Axar Patel. As Arshdeep Singh sent in the throw, Kohli - standing at point - feigned a pick up and throw (a relay throw) as the ball was going past him. At the time, it went unnoticed in the field as the on-field umpires, Marais Erasmus and Chris Brown, didn't take action.
Kohli's intention with that act would have been to make the batsmen believe the throw was going to a different end to the one it was (in this case, he acted like he was throwing to the bowler's end, when it was actually going to the keeper), potentially creating the chance for a run out.
Nurul mentioned the incident while talking to reporters after the game.
"We all saw that it was a wet ground," Nurul said. "Eventually, when we talk about these things, there was also a fake throw. It could have been a five-run penalty. That also could have gone our way, but unfortunately, even that didn't materialise."
The day after the game, BCB cricket operations chairman Jalal Yunus said it had been brought to the umpires' attention. "The fake throw was brought to the umpire's notice but he said he didn't see it," Yunus said. "That's why it wasn't taken to review. Shakib spoke extensively to Erasmus, during and after the match."
Cricket's Law 41.5, pertaining to unfair play, prohibits the "deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of [the] batter", and if an incident is deemed to be a breach, the umpire can declare that particular delivery as dead ball, and award the batting side five runs. This would be in addition to the two runs completed, according to Aakash Chopra, former Indian cricketer, who posted a video on the incident on Youtube,and most other cricket experts.
The replay could be interpreted as an attempt at deception from Kohli, given that Arshdeep's throw from the deep passed by his right hand at the same moment that he motioned a relay throw. It is important to understand that the ruling, which needs to be made by the umpires in real time, is about the attempt to deceive the batters, rather than them actually being deceived.
It was one of three incidents that put umpiring in the spotlight during India's narrow victory over Bangladesh. The first flashpoint came in the 16th over of the India innings, when Kohli, believing Hasan Mahmud had bowled two bouncers in his over, signalled a no-ball towards umpire Erasmus after top-edging a pull towards square leg.
Erasmus called it a no-ball and then found himself standing between Kohli and Shakib Al Hasan, who had made his way from the covers. A conversation ensued for about 90 seconds before the two players hugged each other and walked away.
The second incident came when the umpires approached Shakib, near the dugout, about play resuming following a rain break at the end of the seventh over, at which point Bangladesh, on 66 for no loss, were 17 runs ahead on DLS.
Shakib first knelt down by the boundary's edge to get a sample of the wet outfield, as reported by ESPN Cricinfo, before continuing to talk with the match officials. Rohit Sharma, his opposite number, joined in the discussion, but Shakib's animated gestures suggested that he was not satisfied with the conditions.
"Shakib told him [the umpires] repeatedly that the ground can get dry if they take a bit more time. Start when the ground is dry," Yunus said. "But the umpire's decision is final. There was no room for argument. You have to decide if you want to play or not."
"Secondly, Shakib had spoken about the wet field and he asked that he can take some more time and let the field get dried and start the game after the field is dried. But... the umpires' decision is final and that is reason there was no place for argument. There was only one decision whether you will play or not play. We have it in our head so that we can raise the issue in the proper forum," Jalal concluded.
Later, in the post-match press conference, Shakib didn't elaborate on the matter.
Bangladesh need to win their last match, and then hope that South Africa get no more than one point from their two remaining games. In that case, both Bangladesh and South Africa will be level on six points, but Bangladesh will finish ahead despite a poorer NRR because they will have three wins compared to South Africa's two. (In case teams are level on points, the number of wins is the first tie-breaker, followed by NRR.)
If South Africa move to seven points, then Bangladesh will almost certainly be knocked out as their NRR is too far behind India's. For Bangladesh's NRR to go past India's, the sum of the margin of those two results - Bangladesh beating Pakistan and Zimbabwe beating India - will have to exceed 150 runs.
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