“If you are in a beautiful place where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset, then you are living like a lord.”
And when the pinkish purple sky was accompanied by some Calypso music, gentle breeze across the ground and our favorite sport of cricket; featuring one of the most party-loving audience from the Caribbean and passionate fans from Bangladesh – there was no better place to party then the Central Broward Regional Park (CBRP) in Ft. Lauderhill, Florida on a Saturday evening.
Playing for the first time at the CBRP; after being unable to get a warm-up fixture against a USA XI to get a sense of how the pitch would play, Bangladesh made a remarkable comeback with a 12-run win over West Indies in the 2nd T20 to level the series. The story was the same – 2 senior warhorses put their hands up and won it for Bangladesh. Man of the Match Tamim with a 44 ball 74 and Shakib with his guile and all-round abilities, ably supported by Nazmul Islam who took a 3-for.
In front of a crowd in excess of 7000 and under the beautiful new LED lights at the CBRP; West Indies, with an unchanged side from their win in St Kitts, won the toss and put Bangladesh in to bat. Bangladesh made one change, quite surprising to say the least, replacing their most consistently performing bowler in Mehidy Hasan Miraj with the left-arm pacer Abu Hider.
The start was poor once again for Bangladesh and the young Liton Das could not do any enhancement to his average. With a tight first few balls, he tried to force a drive and was caught at extra cover by the skipper Carlos Braithwaite. In came Mushfiqur – owning up to the responsibility of being a senior player in the side – it seemed as if this could be an innings defining move owing to his good form, the ability to play ‘smart’ cricket and score at a brisk rate. But, it turned out to be another episode of ‘Mushfiqur’s brainfade’. Just the 4th ball he was facing and he went for a reverse sweep; only to end up hitting against the spin and find Andre Russell settling under it at point. Tamim and Soumya then got together and Bangladesh ended the powerplay at 35-2.
They kept the scoreboard ticking by hitting the WI bowlers over mid-off on a regular basis. Sarkar ran out of patience and was foxed by a back-of-the-hand slower one by Keemo Paul to hold out at long-off by Rovman Powell. In came Shakib and there a period of calm, sense and resurgence to follow. Shakib got along with Tamim, who at the other hand was playing responsibly and stringing together an innings which was preparing to be launched later. Shakib got the partnership going with back to back boundaries off Keemo Paul – severe through the off side, both of the front foot as also the back foot – throughout his innings. He then hit Kesrick Williams for 3 fours in the 13th over and the innings got back on track.
Then came the moment that arguably turned out to be a game-changer. Tamim at 47 off 32, was dropped in the next over – a sitter by Rovman Powell at mid-off. How costly would this be was the cry from the commentary box and Tamim did not disappoint. He hit Russell for 22 off the first 5 balls of the 16th. However, Russell had the last laugh as Tamim toe-ended a chip to long-on. But he had done his job with 74 off only 44 balls and given the needed impetus to the Bangladesh innings. Shakib then took up the responsibility to carry the innings ahead scoring a 50 off 30 balls, his first 50 in T20s since March 2016. Mahmudullah scored a 10 ball 13 and Bangladesh innings ended up at 171 for 5. At the halfway mark, it seemed a par score at this venue with previous score of 245 being posted by the West Indies versus India in 2016.
But Bangladesh had different plans and they started off with Mustafizur striking in only the 2nd over of the innings to get Evin Lewis LBW – a bad patch for the batsman extending to 4 matches in a row now. Andre Russell was promoted to number 3 once again – a move that can be quite debated. But the intentions seemed clear – West Indies wanted to get the run-rate up and high right from the start and the chase can be completed easily later with the big-hitters like Carlos Braithwaite and Rovman Powell still to come. The run-rate was high but West Indies lost Russell to a quick short one from Mustafizur and later Samuels, who lasted only 3 balls holding out at deep mid-wicket in Shakib’s first over. It was then a phase of boundary-less batting which lasted 33 balls and West Indies lost Ramdin in this period, to a good review by Bangladesh.
Andre Fletcher and Rovman Powell stuck together to get a partnership of 58 before Fletcher was caught brilliantly by Liton Das on the long-on boundary. Shakib finished that over and wonderful spell of slow left arm bowling with figures of 2 for 19. Rubel bowled a good next over giving away no boundaries and then Powell trying to accelerate fell in the next over. Carlos tried to bring it home but could not enough this time around for the team. The crowd was treated to an excellent last over from Nazmul Islam – who with his left-arm spin gave only 2 runs and took 2 wickets to seal the game for Bangladesh.
This sets up the series perfectly for a final showdown on Sunday (August 5) at the CBRP here in Ft. Lauderhill. Everything to play for and a sight worth watching for the fans. We hope to see a cracker of a game here with the Windies coming hard with their might and the Bangla Tigers trying to outfox the Windies with their guile!