West Indies have kept alive their chances of defending the World Cup with a gripping three-run victory over Bangladesh, who are all-but knocked out of the tournament by their third successive defeat.
Two struggling sides, a sticky wicket at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday, and the heavy consequences of defeat, combined to produce the most gripping match of the tournament so far.
It came down to Mahmudullah, Bangladesh’s captain, needing to hit four off the final ball. But Andre Russell’s wide yorker evaded his bat.
“He’s a big player and executed for us,” West Indies wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran said of Russell.
“I think Liton’s wicket was very crucial because we were both set,” Mahmudullah said.
The game was a triumph for Jason Holder, who only came into the West Indies squad two days earlier as an injury replacement for Obed McCoy.
He smashed a vital 15 not out in five balls as the West Indies reached 7-142, then took 1-22 off his four overs and two key catches as Bangladesh were restricted to 5-139.
The West Indies innings was a split affair. The first 14 overs produced 70 runs for five wickets and barely a boundary. The last six delivered 72 for two wickets amid a welter of sixes, including one off the last ball by Kieron Pollard, who had returned to the crease after previously retiring with illness.
Pooran was the catalyst, smashing 40 in 22 balls to shift the innings from first gear to fifth. Holder added his late runs while Roston Chase, forced to anchor the innings on his international T20 debut after West Indies lost three wickets in the first seven overs, finished with 39 from 46.
Chris Gayle, restored to opening, chewed up ten balls before being bowled for four, Ervin Lewis, hitherto the only batter to post a score in two matches, made six in nine balls, and Russell was unluckily run out backing up without facing a ball when Taskin Ahmed deflected Shimron Hetmyer’s drive onto the stumps.
Taskin finished with 0-17 off his four overs and Shoriful Islam 2-20 off his quartet.
Bangladesh found run-scoring equally difficult on a tricky pitch, a task made harder by a leg injury to star batter Shakib Al Hasan sustained while fielding. He opened but made a 12-ball nine.
By the mid-point they had reached 2-55, needing another 88. They halved the deficit by the 15-over three-quarter point, but for the loss of two further wickets.
The equation came down to 22 off two overs, at which point Mahmudullah hit Dwayne Bravo for the innings’ first six. Four balls and three runs later Liton Das tried to do the same, but found Holder, all 2.01 metres of him, leaping and stretching on the boundary to take the catch.
In a match marked by poor fielding from both sides that was a key catch. Das perished for 44 off 43 balls and Mahmudullah (31 no off 24) could not quite take the Tigers home.