mushfiqur-pandya

Historically, for an Indian, March 23 is remembered with grief. Indian revolutionaries Bhagat Singh, Shivram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar, all in their early 20s, were hanged to death on this day, in 1931.

In 2002, Bollywood saw as many as three movies on Bhagat Singh. A year later, on the ominous day, India played Australia in the final of the 2003 World Cup. Ricky Ponting dashed the dream of a billion at Johannesburg.

The anguish attached to both the events cannot be compared. However, for a nation that swears by cricket, the heartache of the World Cup final still persists.

The date returned to haunt India in 2007 World Cup. They had lost to Bangladesh before beating Bermuda and squaring off against Sri Lanka, whom they had defeated at home the previous month. In a must-win encounter at Port-of-Spain, India lost by 69 runs.

BAN 145/9 in 20 overs | Live Cricket Score India vs Bangladesh, ICC T20 World Cup 2016 IND vs BAN, 25th T20 Match at Bengaluru: IND win by 1 run
BAN 145/9 in 20 overs | Live Cricket Score India vs Bangladesh, ICC T20 World Cup 2016 IND vs BAN, 25th T20 Match at Bengaluru: IND win by 1 run

The magnitude of this defeat was enormous: India were knocked out of the tournament in the group stage. From stone-pelting to public outcry of retirement of Sachin Tendulkar to the full-stop on Greg Chappell era, it was one of the lowest points.

Four years on and exactly eight years and a day after the Johannesburg humiliation, on March 24, 2011, India ousted Australia from the World Cup in the quarter-final stage.

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March 23, 2014 was better. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma guided India to an easy win over West Indies in the 2014 World T20 at Dhaka.

Two years later, the date was back to haunt — well, almost. Yes, on this day, in 2016, India squared off against Bangladesh in a must-win World T20 match. India’s loss against New Zealand in the tournament opener made the game all the more important. Same was the case with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh had shed off their minnow cloak and the sides saw intense rivalry since the 2015 World Cup. Their sentiments towards India changed as well after Rohit Sharma was ‘allegedly’ given not out in the World Cup quarter-final. India’s stature suddenly diminished from a big brother’s to a bully’s. The fan perception changed to India being the root of all cricketing evil. Even some Bangladeshi officials shared same views.

Bangladesh had beaten India in an ODI series in 2015. Less than a month before the World T20 clash, the sides met in the final of Asia Cup T20, where India won a close contest.

From shaved heads to severed heads, things got dirtier between fans on social media over not-too-politically-correct memes. A volcano of emotions was awaiting eruption.

Chasing 147, Bangladesh were 136 for 6 after 19 overs. They needed 11 off the final over and they had Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah batting. Indian skipper MS Dhoni trusted the inexperienced Hardik Pandya for the last over.

From that point, it was a tag-team contest between India’s smartness and a bit of luck against Bangladesh’s apparent talent and mindlessness.

Watch:

19.1: Mahmudullah steered a wide-ish ball to deep cover for a single. Bangladesh needed 10 from 5 balls.

19.2: Pandya’s slower ball went wrong. Mushfiqur stayed at the crease and smoked it through extra cover for four. Bangladesh need 6 off 4 balls. It was their game to lose.

19.3: Mushfiqur employed a ramp shot and managed to find the gap between Dhoni and the leg-slip for four. Fist up, he celebrated by swinging the bat. And this went on to be the premise of all Mushfiqur jokes to premature celebrations. 2 needed from 3.

19.4: OUT! Mushfiqur pulled a slower short ball straight to Shikhar Dhawan, one of India’s safest catchers, at deep mid-wicket. Such mindlessness. Why would you play that? The batsmen crossed and well, Mahmudullah’s senses should have still seen them through.

19.5: OUT! Mahmudullah could have hit the low full-toss anywhere or could have guided it for a run or two but he went for heroics, only to find a running-in Ravindra Jadeja, India’s best fielder, near square-leg. Jadeja made the reverse cup look easy. Bangladesh needed 2 off the final ball.

19.6: OUT! Shuvagata Hom was on strike. He swung outside off and missed. Dhoni had already shed a glove off before the ball. The batsmen sprinted for a run, but when Dhoni sprints not many in the world can match him. He ran Mustafizur Rahman out. India won by a run.

A thriller, good enough to exorcise India of the past scars relate to the date.

Bangladesh would go on to relive the anguish almost two years on. In the Nidahas Trophy final last Sunday, Dinesh Karthik, unlike brothers-in-law Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah in 2016, kept his composure and scored 34 off the final two overs that included a last-ball six, when five was required from it.

Brief scores

India 146 for 7 in 20 overs [Suresh Raina 30 (23); Mustafizur Rahman 4-0-34-2] beat Bangladesh 145 for 9 in 20 overs [Tamim Iqbal 35 (32); Ravichandran Ashwin 4-0-20-2, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-22-2] by 1 run.

Man of the Match: Ravichandran Ashwin