Bangladesh dodge a bullet against UAE in 1st T20

Afif Hossain and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Bangladesh's two best performers against the UAEBCB

Bangladesh eked out a seven-run win over the UAE in a last-over thriller in Dubai, to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series on Sunday.

Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s 3-17 and a career-best knock from Afif Hossain made up for the lacklustre showing from the other players.

Afif made an unbeaten 77 off 55 balls with the help of seven fours and three sixes in an innings and formed an unbroken 81-run stand off 54 balls with skipper Nurul Hasan (35 not out off 25 balls) to take Bangladesh to 158-5 after another top-order collapse.

For the hosts, leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan claimed 2-33 in his four overs.

Afif Hossain hit his career-best 77 off 55 balls against the UAE in the first T20I at the Dubai International Stadium on 25 September, 2022

In reply, Chirag Suri’s 39 off 24 balls caused some initial fears in the Bangladesh camp but Miraz struck thrice in quick succession to release that pressure.

But debutant Ayan Afzal Khan put up a late fight with a 25 off 17 balls but eventually Bangladeshi bowlers held their nerves and bowled out the UAE for 151 in 19.4 overs.

Chasing a tricky but gettable total, the UAE lost opener Muhammad Wasim (15 off 15 balls) early on but his opening partner Suri put the Bangladeshi bowlers under pressure.

Suri struck seven boundaries in a quickfire 39 off 24 deliveries before finally succumbing to a looped up delivery from Miraz.

Suri came down the track to smash the ball behind the bowler’s head but missed the ball completely and Nurul did the rest behind the stumps.

The UAE were still well placed at 66-2 after eight overs and the visitors needed to keep taking wickets in regular succession to stay in the match.

Bangladesh did exactly that, as Miraz struck twice while Mustafizur Rahman and Shoriful Islam took one wicket in quick succession to reduce the UAE to 98-6.

After losing four wickets for just 32 runs, the UAE were behind the eight-ball.

The UAE needed 54 runs in the last five overs with three wickets in hand. The match seemed to be heading towards a dull ending. But the 16-year-old debutant Ayan Khan had other plans.

Ayan hit three boundaries while Meiyappan and Junaid Siddque also hit three fours between them to take the UAE close to a remarkable victory.

They took 11 and 14 runs from pacer Mohammad Saifuddin and Shoriful Islam in the 17th and 18th overs respectively and they needed 11 runs to win in the last over.

Junaid took a couple of runs from the first ball from Shoriful. Saifuddin then dropped Junaid in the second ball, which cost Bangladesh a single.

Ayan tried to hit a six in the third ball, but got caught well inside the ropes and Saifuddin redeemed himself by taking Jaunaid’s catch and sealing Bangladesh’s win.

Earlier, the Bangladesh management kept its faith on the unconventional opening pair of Miraz and Sabbir Rahman.

However, the ploy did not pay off as Sabbir lost his wicket in just the second over for a duck and the opening stand ended on just 11.

Sabbir Rahman walks back after his dismissal

Liton Das, who alongside Yasir Ali and Nurul Hasan returned to the team in this match after their respective injuries, looked in good touch, hitting three boundaries.

But Liton (13 off eight balls) lost his wicket while attempting to hit the third boundary in an over against Aayan Afzal Khan, top-edging the ball and giving an easy catch to Junaid Siddique instead.

Bangladesh’s powerplay woes did not end there as Miraz, after making 12 off 13 balls, gave a return catch to Zawar Farid as the team slumped to 35-3 after 4.4 overs.

Yasir (four off seven balls) then completely misread a googly from leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan and lost his poles.

Contrary to the other Bangladeshi batsmen, Afif, who came to the crease after the second wicket’s fall, looked in command from the beginning.

He formed a 30-run stand for the fifth wicket with Mosaddek Hossain off 23 balls where the latter contributed just three runs off eight balls.

Liton Das plays a shot

Mosaddek tried to take on Meiyappan but ended up getting stumped, leaving Bangladesh five wickets down with 77 runs on the board with nine overs to go.

Stand-in skipper Nurul then joined Afif and the duo formed a partnership that gave Bangladesh a lifeline in the contest.

It looked as if Afif was batting on a different wicket as he hit boundaries almost at will and found gaps to rotate the strike regularly.

The 23-year-old completed his third T20I half-century in the 16th over off 38 deliveries and then put his foot on the accelerator.

Nurul wasn’t at his fluent best, but the wicketkeeper-batter gave him the support Afif required and together they formed the only 50-plus partnership of the innings.

Afif was dropped in the 18th over at the boundary when he was on 64. He made the UAE pay for the mistake, taking 13 runs in the final two overs and Nurul ended the innings with a six.

Bangladesh now lead the series 1-0. The second and final match will take place on 27 September at the same venue.