India have pulled off an astounding one-run victory over Bangladesh in a manic finish to the World T20 Group Two match in Bangalore.
The qualifiers seemed sure to score their first ever victory over India in this format, when they needed just two runs from the final three balls of the match – with four wickets left.
But Hardik Pandya took two in two balls, Mushfiqur Rahim and then Mahmudullah holing out in the leg-side deep – before MS Dhoni ran out Mustafizur Rahman as he tried to scamper a bye to level the scores on 146 and force a Super Over.
Dhoni just won the race to dislodge the stumps as India won their second successive match, by a whisker, to move up to second in the table behind New Zealand, who have already qualified for the semi-finals.
The India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin later admitted India had got out of jail. “That’s the most we’ve talked on a cricket field as a team. We’ve never got together and worried so much,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve got anything left. I’ll go back to my room and crash.”
India, who have their last group match against Australia on Sunday, were putting themselves in danger of an early exit from their own tournament when former Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur hit consecutive boundaries off Pandya to take his team to 145 for 6 in reply to 146 for 7.
But there was another twist in a tale of the unexpected, and it is Bangladesh who will therefore fail to reach the knockout stages after losing their first three matches.
“We were on top to the last three balls. It’s bad luck, we can’t do anything about it,” captain Mashrafe Mortaza said. “It’s really disappointing for us. Overall, we’ve played well.”
Bangladesh seemed set for a successful chase, after restricting India’s big-hitters on an awkward surface. But the pre-tournament favourites kept eking out wickets to stay in with an outside chance.
Sharp work from Dhoni resulted in two stumpings, Tamim Iqbal and Sabbir Rahman the men to go.
Then after Mashrafe, Shakib-al-Hasan and Soumya Sarkar also came and went, it was left to Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah – who took their team to the verge of a memorable victory, only to fall agonisingly short.
India had to work hard for their runs, as their top order struggled for timing after being put in under lights.
They had only 42 for 1 in the power-play, and Virat Kohli needed 23 balls to find the boundary before being bowled aiming a slog-sweep repeat at Shuvagata Hom.
India then continued to struggle for momentum, and appeared below par – but that was only the start of the drama.