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Bangladesh Women’s team stuns India, scripts history by winning Asia Cup 2018 finals

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If anyone thought that cricket was barely about runs scored and wickets clinched, then perhaps they’re forgoing an important consideration. Do dates matter as much as wins? Perhaps, few teams make drive home this point as well as Bangladesh Women’s cricket team.

Remember the Date- June 11, 2018

Before June 11, 2018- the Bangladesh Women’s side was at best, a side that could create a flash in the pan moments. This was ably supported by their stunning win against India, before a repeat of their glorious final effort, for they’d achieved a feat they never had regardless of format against India.
After June 11, 2018- a day where they scripted the uninitiated, beating India in a major T20 final by 3 wickets, they may no longer be considered a cricketing weakling.
Never before had Bangladesh Womens’ team won a major tournament involving India. And on only a few occasions before did India cut a sorry figure, the kinds they did when precisely on the final ball of the final over, Harmanpreet’s side still holding the key, with 2 needed off 1, a poor throw from the outfield blunted India’s chances and crowned Bangladesh the winners of Asia Cup 2018.
But even as there was a major change in the usual narrative, the mighty uprooted; the underdog triumphs, there was something more.
You couldn’t doubt the prowess of the spinners, perhaps the greatest gainers in a contest where batswomen struggled for runs and wickets fell like falling stocks.

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Spinners rule the roost in a low-scoring final

Of the 16 wickets that fell during the Women’s Asia Cup finals, 11 went to the spinners. Batting first on a wicket where the runs were extremely hard to come by and spinners had mighty purchase, India, sparked often by a fiery start given by Mandhana and Raj couldn’t click it together, with half the side dismissed for only 62 in nearly 13 overs.
Slow running, inability to bisect the fielders and failure to pick the gaps against disciplined bowling by Bangladesh- familiar names Rumana, Jahanara- once again the stars meant that Harmanpreet had to muscle a few blows.
Tough that it may have been for others to get going on a dull pitch, Harmanpreet got into the act, powering 7 boundaries on her way to a fluent 56, her strike rate of 133, fours and fluency apart from the rest of her beleaguered batswomen.
But when Bangladesh got out to bat, being asked to chase a paltry 113, it never looked like it would look difficult, their openers knocking the ball around for 5-an over, reaching 35 inside 7 overs.
That is precisely when India clawed their way into what had till then been a one-sided contest.
Or, should we say, Poonam Yadav clawed back into the contest?

Poonam Yadav vs Bangladesh Women’s

In clinching a career-best of 4-9 off 4 overs, as the likes of Bisht, Pandey, Goswami, failed to emerge with any breakthroughs, Poonam Yadav, removed the top and middle order.
In boasting of a wicket stack that looked sublime thanks to a dry run column, exciting enough to inspire envy,  Yadav dislodged what had seemed unmovable duo of Sultana and Rahman, who gave Bangladesh a stable start, something that India just couldn’t manage.
Later, she’d clear out the middle order, removing two in two, as Hoque and Nigar fell to arguably moderately impressive deliveries, fooled by the flight and their inabilities to adjust to the varying spin of a clever, foxy spinner.
However, by the time Bangladesh Women’s reached the 15th over, requiring well over 7 an over, with the set pair of Rumana Ahmed and Nigar Sultana sticking together, the contest underwent an acceleration mode.
Was there something in the field, nearly 5 fielders up in the circle with no one guarding the widish and deepish off side boundary or something with the quality of fast bowling- we’d never know.
But to everyone’s utter surprise, Jhulan Goswami, a veteran and experienced markswoman of 68 T20s, went for 16. This brought down the asking rate to nearly 6-an over. The 3 boundaries had come off slightly fuller deliveries pitched arguably at the yorker length and often outside off with no fielder covering the boundary region.

Was the 16th over the game-changing one?

Was that a costly over- that is for Harmanpreet and the team management to decide?
But what kept India’s fans curiously engaged in hair-tearing was why the experienced Goswami was manned to field the deep backward point region, the 36-year-old not being the agilest athlete of the contest.
As runs came by handily but only courtesy of 1s and 2s, mostly through sweeps down the fine leg and backward point region, Bangladesh seemed better at keeping control of their nerves as India leaked few easy runs.
Yet, somehow, Harmanpreet- captain extraordinaire, minus the field placing tactic- kept chipping away at wickets, effecting run-outs when not causing a dismissal.
If the Bangladesh Women’s contest versus India Women’s throws up a lesson in learning for future stars of their game then it could be about using the feet well against the spinners.
However, the contest wasn’t devoid of any brain-fade moments either, as right when there was no run, a well-set Ahmed, also the star of Bangladesh’s previous upset attempted one from the non-striker’s end on the penultimate ball of the over to make things interesting.

Last ball drama

This, precisely left the final equation to be 2 needed off 1 with the ball in Harmanpreet’s hands and the strike with Jahnara Alam, whose T20 strike rate is 66 and a batting average of 8. You knew who held the edge and that’s when cricket reminded us all to need read too much into the numbers.
With a nicely delivered off break, devoid of flight this time, as the new batswoman hit a strike toward the deep mid wicket to collect what seemed an easy single, the possibility of a second seemed evitable with a poor throw from the widish fielding position.
Heads spun around as if a zombie mayhem had been witnessed. Bangladesh, riding high on a wave of ebullience, made India look clueless as the stars lost in the starlight of the victorious team. T20 witnessed one of its most thrilling moments and arguably, the best-ever for Bangladesh Women’s side.

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Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

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