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A dream come true for the minnows of the game

By Sanjay Rajan

EARLY SUCCESS: It was India's brightest phase on an otherwise dreary day when Habibul Bashar was bowled by Ajit Agarkar to leave Bangladesh in dire starts. - Photo: V.V. Krishnan.

DHAKA, DEC. 26. When push came to shove, Bangladesh finally delivered with a win. The occasion made it all the more momentous. It was Bangladesh's 100th one-day International since making its debut in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka in 1985-86.

Whether the full-house crowd at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Sunday sensed that history was in the offing, one cannot say. It was the country's sixth ODI victory, but the first over India and the first at home. The crowd egged the side on, throughout.

The victory, by 15 runs in what was a cliff-hanger of a second one-dayer in the three-match series, might have come against an experimental Indian side, without Sachin Tendulkar, Irfan Pathan and Rahul Dravid.

But this win has kept the series alive. The final match, also day/night, will be played here on Monday.

Sorely missed

Dravid being rested so as to give way to Dinesh Mongia was not in the original plan. And Dravid was missed sorely. Left-hander Sriram did his bit, as he notched up his maiden half-century (91 balls), but runs alone did not matter in a situation like this, it was also about marshalling the resources, which only comes with experience.

A target of 230 should not have been difficult for a second-string, even a third string, Indian side, but the passion that the host displayed this day was different, the kind that was not seen earlier in the series.

Mortaza revels

Obviously, the confidence was gained from two clear incidents: Md. Ashraful's masterful century in the second Test and the sheer closeness of the first one-dayer, which India won by 11 runs.

Virender Sehwag's exit, bowled by `man of the match' Mashrafe Mortaza with the very third delivery of the innings, must have taken a lot of pressure off the home side.

For, Sehwag is the kind who can win a contest in a matter of a few overs.

And with Yuvraj Singh being dismissed — driving Tapash Baisya away from the body to be caught in the covers — with the team score at five, the pressure was beginning to grow on India.

The host managed to dry up the runs for India in the first half of the innings.

Md. Kaif, who fashioned India's victory in the first one-dayer in Chittagong, kept the scoreboard moving with his innovative play — Sriram and he put on 63 for the fourth wicket — before Rajin Saleh ran out the Uttar Pradesh cricketer.

It left India at 170 for seven in the 41st over, and the contest had turned course.

The home side's medium pacers Mortaza, Baisya, Nazmul and Aftab Ahmed bowled wonderfully, not to forget the experienced left-arm spinner Md. Rafique who bowled tightly in the middle overs. The fielding did not give anything away either.

Agarkar departed immediately after Kaif but Joginder Sharma, in only his second one-day International, played with a cool head. The Haryana cricketer took the score to 204 with Zaheer Khan before the latter was caught in the deep off the last ball of the 45th over.

There came a point when last-man Murali Kartik and Joginder had to get 18 at run a ball. Kartik was dismissed, run out to a direct hit by Aftab Ahmed.

Another top-order collapse

Opting to bat, the host was under pressure immediately when pinch-hitter Md. Rafique fell leg-before to left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan playing `half-cock'. Skipper Habibul Bashar's fears of another top-order collapse came true when the steady opening bat, Nafis Iqbal, and the skipper himself, who had top-scored in the previous match, departed by the ninth over.

Iqbal was medium-pacer Ajit Agarkar's 200th victim and 'keeper M.S. Dhoni's first. The

Mumbaikar became the fourth Indian after Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble to reach the mark.

Md. Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed put on 44 in 60 deliveries for the fourth wicket while the latter, who notched up his maiden half-century (67), added a crucial 44 runs for the sixth with Khaled Mashud in 54 deliveries.

The 19-year-old Aftab, who hails from Chittagong, batted positively, out-shining Md. Ashraful, who came up with a cameo 28 that included a hooked six off Zaheer and another over covers off left-arm spinner Murali Kartik. However, it was Kartik who claimed Ashraful, caught and bowled after beating him in the air.

Aftab mustered 36 off 53 deliveries in the company of Khaled Mahmud for the seventh wicket before being bowled by Kartik while giving the charge.

The tail did not give in easily, Mortaza (31 not out) added 42 with Baisya and Nazmul for the last two wickets. None deserved the Man of the Match award more than Mortaza.

N. Iqbal c Dhoni

b Agarkar

(32m, 22b, 1x4)
M. Rafique lbw b Zaheer0
(6m, 2b)
H. Bashar b Agarkar17
(33m, 21b, 3x4)
M. Ashraful c & b Kartik28
(52m, 41b, 1x4, 2x6)
A. Ahmed b Kartik67
(124m, 98b, 5x4, 1x6)
R. Saleh (run out)0
(9m, 10b)
K. Mashud c Joginder

b Sriram

(34m, 24b, 2x4)
K. Mahmud (run out)17
(50m, 38b, 2x4)
M. Mortaza (not out)31
(41m, 39b, 3x4, 1x6)
T. Baisya b Zaheer17
(22m, 13b, 2x4)
N. Hossain (not out)3
(2m, 2b)
Extras (lb-4, w-6, nb-10)20
— —
Total (for nine wkts.

in 50 overs)

— —
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Rafique), 2-26 (Iqbal), 3-37 (Bashar), 4-81 (Ashraful), 5-88 (Saleh), 6-132 (Mashud), 7-168 (Ahmed), 8-187 (Mahmud), 9-226 (Baisya).

India bowling: Agarkar 9-1-31-2 (nb-1, w-2), Zaheer 8-1-53-2 (w-1), Joginder 10-1-51-0 (nb-3, w-2), Kartik 10-0-43-2 (nb-5), Sriram 10-1-37-1 (w-1), Mongia 3-0-10-0 (nb-1).

V. Sehwag b Mortaza0
(2m, 3b)
S. Ganguly c Mortaza

b Mahmud

(84m, 42b, 3x4)
Yuvraj c Saleh b Baisya4
(13m, 8b, 1x4)
S. Sriram st Mashud

b Rafique

(114m, 91b, 7x4)
Mohd. Kaif (run out)49
(103m, 56b, 5x4)
D. Mongia lbw b Baisya12
(20m, 18b)
M.S. Dhoni c Bashar

b Mortaza

(16m, 11b, 2x4)
A. Agarkar c Ahmed

b Rafique

(18m, 15b, 1x4)
Joginder (not out)29
(38m, 23b, 4x4)
Zaheer c Mortaza

b Mahmud

(22m, 14b, 1x4)
M. Kartik (run out)3
(11m, 5b)
Extras (lb-4, w-3)7
— —
Total (in 47.5 overs) 214
— —
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Sehwag), 2-5 (Yuvraj), 3-51 (Ganguly), 4-114 (Sriram), 5-131 (Mongia), 6-155 (Dhoni), 7-170 (Kaif), 8-172 (Agarkar), 9-204 (Zaheer).

Bangladesh bowling: Mortaza 9-2-36-2 (w-1), Baisya 10-2-35-2, Hossain 7-0-26-0, Mahmud 9.5-0-40-2 (w-1), Rafique 10-0-57-2 (w-1), Ahmed 2-0-16-0.

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