West Indies take lead after rain-affected contest

SUMMARY: West Indies 93-3 (Russell 35*, Mustafizur 2-18) beat Bangladesh 143-9 (Mahmudullah 35, Williams 4-28) by seven wickets (by DLS method)

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Andre Russell’s fitness was a matter of concern coming into the T20I series. He was already going through a hamstring niggle. Adding to that were fresh concerns over the condition of his knees. Russell had missed two ODIs last week, but upon coming back, in his favourite format, he roared into form with a match-winning, unbeaten 21-ball 35 in a stiff chase of 91 in 11 overs.

West Indies, who had slipped to 10 for 2 by the second over in a revised chase – Bangladesh had made 143 for 8 before rain came down – waltzed home with 11 balls to spare as a result. After the match, a “bit worried” Russell, who was promoted to No. 3, said that while he wasn’t yet 100% fit, he was “happy enough to be playing at probably 95%.”

If Russell’s knock proved to be the topping, Kesrick Williams’ four-for set it up, after Carlos Brathwaite had elected to bowl. The medium pacer varied his lengths and pace on a surface with bounce and carry to finish with a career-best 4 for 28. The wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim was particularly significant, as it came after Bangladesh had launched a swift counter-attack to offset scoreboard pressure at 43 for 4 in the sixth over.

The wicket, though, was superbly set up by Brathwaite, who moved third man square, anticipating Mushfiqur’s ramp over the infield. While he managed to find the boundary on one such attempt, a repeat off the next delivery resulted in his downfall in the 10th over. Thereafter, Bangladesh were reliant entirely on Mahmudullah to bail them out, and while he made a sprightly 27-ball 35, lack of support from the others did Bangladesh in.

The stutter began right at the outset, with the wickets of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar in the very first over, off Ashley Nurse. Tamim, who was coming into the match having made two centuries in the three-match ODI series, charged down recklessly to be stumped off the first ball, while Soumya was bowled playing back to fullish quicker delivery that skid through to beat the outside edge. This would be Nurse’s only over, which Brathwaite later put down to “tactics.”

Bangladesh could have so easily been 7 for 3 had Marlon Samuels not shelled a straightforward catch at cover to reprieve Shakib off Russell. This , however, hardly deterred Shakib and Liton Das, who were unafraid to continue playing adventurously. This spell brought Bangladesh 38 runs off 28 balls, before Keemo Paul’s raw pace accounted for the pair off successive deliveries in the sixth over.

Liton mistimed a pull to the agile Andre Fletcher at deep square, and Shakib was out to a brilliant catch – yes, that man Kesrick – at third man. Leaping high to catch the ball, Kesrick tossed it back up as the momentum took him over the ropes at third man, and retained composure to catch the ball back once inside the field of play.

This period was followed by a quick 47-run stand between Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah, who fed off Samuel Badree’s inconsistency by clouting him for two fours and a six in an 18-run over. This was to be the only passage where Bangladesh showed any signs of batting domination on the night.

Play was then halted by the weather for close to 80 minutes, and when it resumed, West Indies were set 91 off 11 overs, as opposed to their original target of 144 in 20. Mustafizur Rahman pulled things Bangladesh’s way immediately by removing Ewin Lewis and Fletcher in a double-wicket maiden second over. But before Bangladesh could even let that sink in, they had to content with Russell’s power.

Promoted to No. 3, Russell added 42 with the returning Marlon Samuels, who made an enterprising 13-ball 26 before falling in the sixth over. This hardly affected Russell, as he took on Mustafizur by mowing his slower length ball for six over midwicket and then following it with three fours in an expensive seventh over that went for 18 runs. This wholeheartedly turned the game in West Indies’ favour, and they sealed it with Rovman Powell’s clean strike over long-on in the 10th. (ESPNCricinfo)

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