Nidahas Trophy 6th Match: Mahmudullah’s blitz helps Bangladesh advance to Nidahas Trophy final

Mahmudullah 43 Sri Lanka Bangladesh Nidahas Trophy cricket

Mahmudullah exults after leading Bangladesh to victory

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Bangladesh all-rounder Mahmudullah hammered a game-winning 18-ball 43 to not only lead his side to a thrilling two-wicket win over Sri Lanka, but also guide them into the Nidahas Trophy final, where they will face India.

Choosing to bowl first, Bangladesh got their first breakthrough in the third over of the match as Sri Lanka opener Danushka Gunathilaka was caught by Sabbir Rahman at long-on off the bowling of captain Shakib Al Hasan, who was making his comeback from a finger injury, for four runs.

Kusal Mendis was on his way back to the pavilion the very next over as he was caught by Soumya Sarkar at midwicket off the bowling of Mustafizur Rahman for 11.

Things went from bad to worse for Sri Lanka as Upul Tharanga, Dasun Shanaka and Jeevan Mendis were all dismissed in quick succession.

With the hosts in deep trouble at 41/5, Kusal Perera and stand-in skipper Thisara Perera came to the rescue with a 97-run partnership, during which Kusal brought up his half-century.

Kusal ended up making 61 off 40 balls, which included seven boundaries and a six, before he was sent packing by Sarkar.

Thisara, meanwhile, went on to score 58 off 37 deliveries, which included three boundaries and three sixes, before he was caught by Tamim Iqbal off the bowling of Rubel Hossain.

Kusal Perera Thisara Perera Sri Lanka Bangladesh Nidahas Trophy cricket

Kusal Perera (left) and Thisara Perera both scored fifties

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Thanks to Kusal and Thisara, Sri Lanka finished on 159/7 off their 20 overs.

Mustafizur was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Shakib, Rubel, Sarkar and Mehidy Hasan Miraz chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Chasing 160 to win, Bangladesh lost Liton Das and Sabbir early on.

However, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim stabilised the innings with a 64-run partnership before Rahim was dismissed by Amila Aponso for 28.

Tamim went on to score 50 off 42 balls, which included four boundaries and two sixes, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Gunathilaka.

Tamim Iqbal 50 Sri Lanka Bangladesh Nidahas Trophy cricket

Tamim Iqbal scored his fifth half-century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Bangladesh began to lose wickets at regular intervals after Tamim’s dismissal, but Mahmudullah kept them in contention.

Heading into the final over, Bangladesh required 12 runs to win, but after failing to score off the first two balls, which also saw Mustafizur get run out, there were incredible scenes in Colombo.

Frustrated with the umpire’s not calling no-balls for the two deliveries, an argument broke out between Bangladesh’s substitutes and the Sri Lankan fielders.

Shakib then seemed to call his side back, which would have seen Bangladesh get disqualified.

However, after the situation was calmed down, Mahmdullah struck a boundary, ran two and hammered a six over backward square leg to lead Bangladesh to victory with one ball to spare.

Mahmudullah finished unbeaten on 43 off 18 balls, which included three boundaries and two sixes.

Akila Dananjaya was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Aponso, Gunathilaka, Jeevan and Isuru Udana claimed one wicket each.

Thisara was gutted to have lost, and said: “Very tough game, we are disappointed. We thought we were 10-15 runs short, 160 is still reasonable.”

Shakib was relieved to have won, and said: “You can’t expect more than that in a T20 game, so much excitement, emotion. Credit goes to SL, losing five early wickets. We kept our nerves in the end. I knew I was not 100% as far as batting is concerned.

“We always had healthy competition in the ground, but outside, we are friends. Emotions take over, I need to be careful as a leader of a team, I will be careful next time.”

Mahmudullah was named Man of the Match, and said: “One of my best innings. When Shakib came back, it was a big boost. Plan to strike the ball as hard as I can. When Shakib got out, I was under pressure. The confusion was because it was the first bumper, but we should forget it, happens in the game.”

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