Youthful Bangladesh triumph over world champions

Bangladesh's Najmul Hossain Shanto plays a shot during the first Twenty20 international cricket match between Bangladesh and England at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on March 9, 2023AFP

Bangladesh showcased brave and powerful performance in batting, bowling and fielding to clinch a six-wicket win against the world champions England in their first T20I of the two-match series at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

The audacious approach was most evident in batting and Najmul Hossain Shanto led the chase as he scored 51 off just 30 balls. Najmul, the highest run getter of the recent Bangladesh Premier League is often criticized for his low strike rate in the shortest version but he played a blistering innings taking on the best of bowlers.

He seemed to be in mood of dispatching every ball to boundary and the fastest of the English bowlers Mark Wood felt the heat most as Najmul struck four consecutive boundaries against him in the seventh over.

But it was not only about shot and bang stuff as Najmul and his young partner Towhid Hridoy showed incredible skill of running between the wickets picking up few very quick doubles and on occasion outstanding three.

Hirioy, another star from BPL, gave brilliant support not only through their excellent communication and running but also with the intent of scoring runs quickly. The highlight of his 17-ball 24 was an 84-meter long six against Adil Rashid, one of the finest leg-spinners in the white ball cricket currently.

The right-left combination of Hridoy and Najmul knitted 65 runs off just 37 balls in the third wicket to ease the chase. They must also thank the opening batters Liton Das and Rony Talukeder to set the tempo with a brisk start.

Liton scored 12 off 10 while Rony, the 32-year-old, who played his only second T20 with a gap of almost eight years, looked impressive before getting out for 21 off 14.

Captain Shakib al Hasan and Afif Hossain did the rest after two quick wickets of Hridoy and Najmul. Shakib, who led the young team from the front, aptly finished the match with a boundary in the final ball of the 18th over remained not out for 34 off 24 while Afif was on 15 off 13.

Earlier in the day, after losing the toss England openers Philip Salt and Jos Butler gave a strong start as the duo formed an 80-run stand before the former was dismissed for 38 in the bowling of left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed.

Pacer Hasan Mahmud celebrating with teammates after the dismissal of England's captain Jos Buttler during the first Twenty20 international cricket match between Bangladesh and England at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on March 9, 2023

One-down Dawid Malan got out only for four but captain Butler kept the onslaught with Duckett before the latter was dismissed for 20 off 13.

The turning point of the innings in the very next ball, the first of the 17th over when Butler was out for 67 off 42 caught by Najmul off the bowling of Hasan Mahmud.

The 23-year-old Mahmud not only picked the vital wicket but bowled brilliantly in the death overs. He conceded just one run in that over and just four in the 19th over while his two senior pace bowling mates Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed gave away seven and nine in 18th and 20th over respectively to restrict England to 156-6.

Shakib conceded just 26 from four overs to check the English batters but it was not only the bowlers, the very alert and athletic out fielding also saved at least 10-12 runs for the Tigers.

Bangladesh have won many international matches but this one will be remembered as one where all three departments tuned in harmony with juvenile spirit.