The all-rounder returned 3/21 and then hit 42* in an unbroken 93-run stand with Fargana Hoque as Bangladesh won by seven wickets.
“Let’s just keep calm and get this done,” Rumana Ahmed and Fargana Hoque told each other, and that’s just what they did, adding a Bangladesh record 93 unbroken runs for the fourth wicket to take their team to a famous seven-wicket win over India in the Women's Twenty20 Asia Cup.
Less than a month ago, on 17 May away in Kimberley, Ahmed and Hoque had associated for 72 runs against South Africa, but couldn’t prevent a 17-run defeat. On Wednesday 6 June, they came together in Kuala Lumpur with Bangladesh on 49/3 in reply to India’s 141/7. The confidence was there, as they had beaten Pakistan by seven wickets in their previous match, and they rolled with it, bringing up the win in the final over. Ahmed ended on 42* and Hoque on 52*.
“The dream has always been to come close to beating a team like India. That we've beaten them is a reality,” Ahmed, the Bangladesh vice-captain – Salma Khatun, the off-spinner is the captain – told ESPNcricinfo after Bangladesh had beaten India for the first time in any format in women’s cricket.
“When we arrived at the team hotel, the Pakistan players congratulated us in the lobby. We beat them the other day, and today they were congratulating us for beating India,” joked Ahmed, who had earlier returned 3/21 in a Player of the Match award-winning performance.
ECSTATIC!@BCBtigers players celebrate their special victory against defending champions India!#INDvsBAN #WAC2018 pic.twitter.com/MA13U1obu2— AsianCricketCouncil (@ACCMedia1) June 6, 2018
Bangladesh are No.9 on the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s Team Rankings, and India are No.4. No wonder Ahmed said it was “easily the most memorable day” in her career and “perhaps in Bangladesh women's history”.
One of the highlights of the day for Ahmed was getting Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s T20 International captain, out for 42 at a crucial juncture in the game. Kaur was going well, but her dismissal left India at 120/4 in 16 overs, and only 21 runs were added after it.
For the first time in Women's Asia Cup, India have suffered a defeat as they lose to Bangladesh by seven wickets today.— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) June 6, 2018
“If you see Harmanpreet's records, she's scored 60-70 against us every other game. I remember telling a journalist the other day that I've not played against too many sensible female cricketers like Harman. Most of our bowlers struggle against her because it's difficult to contend with the power in her arms or the way she pierces the gaps. But we made sure we kept rotating our bowlers despite the terrible heat and humidity,” said Ahmed.
The one that made her happiest was Anuja Patil’s wicket, though. “During the A-team matches, I took note of her ability to play all round the wicket. So, as a wrist-spinner, my target was to make her play straight. I pitched up as much as possible, and there it was: she hit one straight back,” explained Ahmed.
Before Hoque and Ahmed scripted their match-winning partnership, opener Shamima Sultana had scored a quick 33 in 23 balls. But the asking rate was starting to climb, and that made things tricky.
“That was probably the only time I started second-guessing myself, and thought it might be a little too much for us,” said Ahmed. “But when the equation came down to 32 off 24, Fargana and I told each other that we got this. Let's just keep calm and get this done. Just like we did the other day.”
Rumana Ahmed could hardly put a foot wrong today!— AsianCricketCouncil (@ACCMedia1) June 6, 2018
3/21 with the ball and a match-winning 34-ball 42* to help @BCBtigers to their second win of the 2018 Women's Asia Cup! #WAC2018 #Asiacup2018 pic.twitter.com/vYDTk3lJ3O
Bangladesh are now coached by Anju Jain, the former India wicket-keeper batter, but it was David Capel, the England all-rounder from the late 1980s, who was in charge till recently.
While acknowledging Jain’s inputs to the team, Ahmed didn’t forget to point to Capel’s contribution to her game, especially the bowling. “I think 60-70 per cent credit of these two wins goes to him,” she said. “Many of the strategies I used while bowling today were based on David's theories.
“In the past 18 months, he taught us to envisage a day like today, to believe we can beat big teams. Wherever he is now, I hope he's proud of what we achieved today.”