West Indies hold nerve to keep T20 title defence alive

Windies narrowly avoid a third defeat in as many Super 12 games but Bangladesh can no longer qualify for semi-finals; Pooran’s 40 off 22 balls proves decisive as target of 143 proves just out of the reach of Bangladesh, who close on 139-5

Last Updated: 29/10/21 3:16pm

Nicholas Pooran struck four sixes in an innings of 40 off 22 balls for West Indies against Bangladesh
Nicholas Pooran struck four sixes in an innings of 40 off 22 balls for West Indies against Bangladesh

West Indies’ defence of their T20 World Cup title remains alive after a nerve-jangling three-run win over Bangladesh in Sharjah.

The defending champions could not afford another slip up after losing their opening two Super 12 games but succeeded in defending a total of 142-7 despite a superb knock of 44 from wicketkeeper-batsman Liton Das.

Andre Russell kept his nerve with the ball, denying Bangladesh the 13 runs they needed off the final over to avoid their own early exit, but the standout contribution for West Indies came from Nicholas Pooran (40 off 22 balls).

The left-hander dragged his side to a respectable total with a flurry of four sixes, supplementing a more measured 39 from T20 debutant Roston Chase, and giving the title-holders a total to bowl at.

Bangladesh struck early after opting to bowl as Evin Lewis (six) skied Mustafizur Rahman off the toe end of the bat and the going remained tough for West Indies as Mahedi Hasan (2-27) slid a delivery from around the wicket past Chris Gayle’s forward push and into middle stump.

The scoreboard read a paltry 28-2 at the end of the powerplay and Chase should have departed shortly afterwards only for Mahedi to shell a firm return chance.

The spinner made swift amends as Shimron Hetmyer (nine) miscued to mid-off and with Shakib Al Hasan (0-28) proving typically economical despite a knee injury, Windies were well behind the rate at halfway on 48-3.

Kieron Pollard could not provide the necessary boundary injection – retiring ill after scoring eight – and Andre Russell was run out at the non-striker’s end without facing off the very next ball as Taskin Ahmed (0-17) diverted a Chase straight drive onto the stumps with his boot.

Chase received a second life on 27 off the bowling of Shakib when Mahedi fumbled a simple chance at deep midwicket, paving the way for a crucial partnership with Pooran.

The left-hander pulled Shakib for successive sixes and then launched Mahedi for another two in the 18th over, the second of which brought up the 50-run stand off 33 deliveries.

The partnership grew to 57 before the batters fell in successive deliveries to Shoriful Islam (2-20), who knocked Chase’s leg stump out of the ground after having Pooran picked out deep cover.

Shoriful might have had a third wicket in five balls only for Afif Hossain to put down Holder at deep cover.

Pollard returned after the dismissal of Dwayne Bravo for just a single and watched on as Jason Holder (15no off five) swung Mustafizur away for consecutive sixes in the final over, before finishing the innings with a maximum of his own.

Seamer Taskin Ahmed (second right) celebrates with Bangladesh team-mates after running out Andre Russell of West Indies for a duck

That meant that a total of 58 runs, including seven sixes, came off the last five overs in comparison to 84 runs and no sixes in the first 15 overs.

Shakib, opening for his country for the first time in T20 cricket, hobbled into his work – clearly affected by his leg injury – and made just nine before skying Russell to mid-on.

It was a welcome change of fortune for Russell, who’d had Mohammad Naim dropped off the previous ball at midwicket when he had just 11.

The opener added just six more runs before he dragged Holder, leading West Indies with Pollard off the field recovering, into his stumps.

Soumya Sarkar (17 off 13) helped Das keep Bangladesh just ahead of the required run-rate past the 10-over mark only to fall to a diving Gayle catch at short third man off the bowling of Akeal Hosein.

Liton Das played a brilliant hand for Bangladesh but could not quite see his side across the line

With boundaries in short supply, the battle remained nip-and-tuck with Mushfiqur Rahim looking to force the issue until he missed a scoop and lost his off-stump to Ravi Rampaul.

Bangladesh were left needing 44 runs off the last five overs and then 22 off two overs – Das all the while keeping his head, ticking over at a run-a-ball, and Mahmudullah (31no off 24 balls) weighing in with timely boundaries including a large, straight six off Bravo.

The equation had dropped to 13 runs off seven balls when Das attempted to clear Holder at long on only to fail by a matter of inches.

It was a decisive moment as Bangladesh failed to get across the line despite Mahmudullah receiving a last-over life off Russell’s bowling.

Live coverage of the ICC T20 World Cup continues on Sky Sports with a double-header on Saturday as South Africa take on Sri Lanka from 10.30am, before England and Australia square up from 2.30pm.

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