Indian skipper Rohit Sharma’s gamble of giving the last over to inexperienced bowler Arshdeep Singh paid off spectacularly well in the ICC men’s World T20 Cup humdinger against Bangladesh here last night.
Bangladesh needed 20 to win in the last six balls and Arshdeep ensured that India won by five runs by the DLS method in the rain-hit encounter at the Adelaide Oval.
The Punjab youngster has certainly earned his captain’s trust after his consistent display in the early part of the tournament.
He was given the job of bowling his fourth and last over, which happened to be the last of the game too, instead of the Indian captain asking his more experienced teammates Mohammed Shami or Bhuvaneshwar Kumar to do the nerve-wracking job.
It all must have stemmed from the captain’s confidence about Arshdeep’s ability.
The lanky 23-year-old from Punjab has impressed everyone from the first game against Pakistan, a high-voltage match, which was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23.
The left arm speedster, in fact, is currently India’s leading wicket taker in the tournament with a tally of 9 wickets from four matches, ahead of second-placed Hardik Pandya (6).
The lanky youngster had an impressive IPL season for Kings XI Punjab to earn a call-up for T20 duty at the national level. He then made his India debut just over three months ago against England in Southampton.
Arshdeep has certainly impressed the Indian team management, with his power play bowling as well as bowling at the death. He has figured in most of the T20Is that the country has played since his debut on July 7 and has played all four games so far in Australia.
The Punjab pacer had rocked India’s arch rivals Pakistan with two big blows to send back openers Mohammed Rizwan and captain Babar Azam in his first two overs in the high-octane tie at the MCG.
But things were tense on Wednesday at the Adelaide Oval when the lanky left arm speedster was asked to take the ball and bowl the last over after he was creamed for 12 runs in his first over.
Bangladesh had made a blistering start chasing India’s stiff score of 184 for 6 by reaching 66 for no loss by the end of the seventh over when rain came pelting down to stop the play.
The rain relented after drenching the outfield for more than half an hour, but play commenced after 45 minutes with Litton Das having raced to his 50 in just 21 balls inside the power play period at the crease with fellow opener Najmul Hossain Shanto.
On resumption the target for Bangladesh had been revised to 151 in 16 overs and India had a stroke of luck when Das was run out when trying for a second run through a brilliant, long range throw at the non-striker’s end stumps by K.L. Rahul.
And when the target became 52 from 30 balls just past the 10-over mark with Bangladesh having eight wickets in hand, things looked difficult for India.
Rohit’s confidence in Arshdeep’s ability, after the bowler had been expensive in his opening over, brought India back into the game.
The MP-born youngster got rid of Bangladesh’s most experienced player and skipper Shakib Al Hasan and number four Afif Hossain, both by luring the batters with short balls dug into the pitch.
Both the batters skied to the deep fielders and suddenly things looked rosy for India with Bangladesh sliding to 100 for four in the space of just five balls in the 12th over, and Arshdeep’s second.
Hardik Pandya also struck two blows in the 13th over to send Bangladesh reeling at 108 for 6.
But the match was not yet won till Rohit turned to Arshdeep, who gave away 10 more runs in his third over, for the final over with 20 required for a Bangladesh victory.
Wicket keeper Nurul Hasan was threatening to take away the game when he swung Arshdeep, bowling from over the wicket, over the leg side field for a six.
But Arshdeep immediately changed tack, came on to bowl from round the wicket and cramped the batsman. He did concede 14 runs but it was enough to see India home by five runs through the DLS method for the rain-hit matches.
Senior pacer Mohammed Shami gave an interesting answer when asked after the match about the idea behind giving the last over to Arshdeep even though he or the other senior pace bowler in the team, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, could have been asked to do the job.
“I can’t say it was an idea. Twenty runs were needed. It was a captain’s choice too. Maybe he is being prepared for future games and was given the ball to give him more confidence,” said Shami.
Arshdeep has thus far come up with figures of 3 for 23 against Pakistan, 2 for 37 versus Netherlands, 2 for 25 against South Africa and 2 for 38 last night against Bangladesh to lead the wicket takers tally from India.
Shami also revealed that the Indian bowlers had to bowl with a wet ball when play resumed but managed to stop Bangladesh in their tracks.
“184 is a good score on any ground. Yes it rained, but that’s a different issue. It was not easy scoring 10 runs per over although the target became easier as the ball became wet. When a ball is wet fifty things swirl around your mind,” said Shami who finished with figures of 1 for 25.