Every now and again, there comes along a moment where the scarecrow gets scared. In other words, when a biggie, a massive presence gets subdued. So as Bangladesh stunned a very much in-form India, that too by a margin of 7 wickets, not only were heads turned in admiration, the Asia Cup 2018, that had hitherto been dominated only by India opened up so to speak.
But it ought to be asked, now that the contest has been concluded and a visibly weaker side having humbled a real giant of the game, just how many of us would’ve predicted a Bangladesh victory against India by a humongous margin of 7 wickets?
Playing arguably their best game thus far, when Bangladesh beat Pakistan a couple of days earlier, there were smiles. Now, that they’ve gone ahead and registered arguably their most emphatic win by thumping Harmanpreet Kaur-led India, there’s reason to believe that they’ve caused Asia Cup 2018’s biggest upset as on date.
It ought to be asked, how often does the scorecard reveal: Bangladesh beat India by 7 wickets. On June 6, 2018, they not only defeated India, they also humbled a far more superior set-up with 2 balls to spare.
Although batting first, India did look comfortable having scored 141 eventually, helped majorly by the batting belligerence of familiar force in the middle Harmanpreet Kaur- 42 including 6 boundaries- they may have wanted to gather a few more especially having been 86 for 3 in just 11 overs. But that is precisely when Rumana Ahmed, arguably, Bangladesh’s best all-rounder pitched in and threw in a fight by spoiling India’s advances.
In collecting a vital 3-for, her best performance against India ever, Rumana gave away only 21 runs from her share of 4 overs. But by that time, it seemed it was pretty much over for Harmanpreet’s girls, with familiar smashers of the white ball- Mandhana and Mithali- back in the dugout, contributing no more than 2 and 15 respectively.
Even then, riding along well at nearly 8 an over by the 11th over mark should’ve inspired some confidence among Kaur’s team but it would go on to disappoint.
This is Bangladesh women’s team’s first win over India in any format of the women’s game. And it sure will remain etched in cricket lovers’ memories for times to come.
Of late, it’s been seen that India, who’ve humbled, for no other word would suffice, not just Thailand and Malaysia by comfortable margins, haven’t been able to register really compelling scores. The Harmanpreet and the Mandhana-powered side hasn’t yet been able to clear the 190 run-mark, a sort of total that can hurt any opposition in pursuit. Even then, the individual performances haven’t really disappointed. One would still remember, in this moment of disenchantment for India fans the majestic touch of Mithali Raj’s unbeaten 97. Alas, nothing exceptional of that sort would come today against Bangladesh, where the famous top order, a marvellous troika of Raj, Mandhana, and Kaur, would contribute a lowly 59, thanks largely to the captain’s brave 42.
But that said, what added to India’s eventual 141- not the most inspiring team aggregate to be honest- was a fighting 30 by Deepti Sharma, a familiar contributor from down the order.
On the other hand, Bangladesh, in pursuit of just 142 looked comfortable and geared up to collect their ‘second big moment’ from the series.
Aiding Bangladesh, rather to the utter comfort of the sub-continental side in pursuit, was Jhulan Goswami, although playing her maiden Asia Cup T20 contest in this series, who ended up wicket-less. Yet, the spinners kept up some pressure, the likes of Poonam Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad picking a wicket apiece.
The most important batting contributions would come from the top and middle order, including Fargana Hoque, among the fine timers of the cricket ball contributing an unbeaten 52.
But, beyond any doubt, the most crucial performance came from the blade of leg-spinner Rumana Ahmed who remained unbeaten till the end for her 42 having also deployed brakes on India’s scoring earlier courtesy her fantastic 3-21. This was the all-round performance that Bangladesh needed in a contest where they were up against some of the finest and most decorated names in the women’s game- Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur.
Thankfully, from India’s perspective, the defeat to Bangladesh having won two consecutive wins, albeit at the back of weaker oppositions, comes at just the right time where it could be argued the side may have only marginally slipped into a ‘sleep mode’. Hopefully, for the contests ahead, this sudden 7-wicket loss, surprising in all forms that it may be, will serve the unit well to realize the importance of winning ahead.
Although, India would still draw a lot of strength from their net run rate, visibly way ahead of others in the contest.