Shakib Al Hasan felt it was experience that was the difference as Bangladesh came out on top in a must-win clash against Oman at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
And it is hard to argue with the experienced all-rounder, named Player of the Match after making 42 and then taking three for 28 in the 26-run success.
While powerplays can often be the difference in T20 matches, Oman had the better of both in this one, but each time, Bangladesh fought back, with Shakib leading the charge.
He explained: “Oman played really good cricket but we held our nerve. Experience played a role. Oman were in the game for 15 overs, so credit to them. I think this win will settle our nerves.”
It was Shakib’s partnership with Mohammad Naim that laid the foundations for a first innings total of 153 all out, the pair adding 80 before Shakib was run out.
Naim, who had got two early lives, kept on going before falling for 64, fully justifying his inclusion in the team at the expense of Soumya Sarkar.
That looked a challenging total in these conditions, but Oman flew out of the blocks, helped by some wayward bowling from Mustafizur Rahman who needed 11 deliveries to complete his first over as he struggled with his radar.
In fact, despite a wicket in that marathon, the Fizz was finding life hard going in the reply, putting down Kashyap Prajapati the following over.
Some might have buckled in those circumstances, but that is where the experience came to the fore. Mahmudullah turned to Shakib, who started to slow the run rate, before going back to Mustafizur.
After seeing Jatinder Singh get a life – dropped by a Mahmudullah – and Kashyap launch him for six, the fast bowler held his nerve and got immediate revenge.
Even better, he took a brilliant catch in the deep to remove Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood just as he had started to cut loose.
Talent is one thing, but resilience in adversity is another, and Bangladesh showed that in spades just as the tournament could have slipped away.
Jatinder was the danger man at this point and reinforced that point by pulling Shakib to the boundary of the first ball of his third over. Like Mustafizur, he did not panic, and when the opener tried the same trick of the last ball of that over, Liton Das was in place to take the catch and effectively seal the win.
As the best bowlers do, the pair then feasted after removing the key batters, Shakib taking two in two off his last over, and Mustafizur grabbing two more in the 18th over to finish with four for 36.
They proved to be the main wicket-takers, although as much credit should go to Mahedi Hasan (1/14) and Mohammad Saifuddin (1/16), whose miserly spells helped suffocate the chase.
In a win-or-go-home match, Bangladesh came through, and now Papua New Guinea await with the calculators at the ready should it come down to net run-rate.
If it does, Bangladesh will again be able to rely on the fact that when it comes to experience, they are in a league of their own in Group 2.