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Bangladesh and Windies will take each other on in the final match of the Twenty20 International series in Dhaka on Saturday, with the series locked at 1-1 and all to play for.
Even though Windies registered a comfortable victory in the first T20I, Bangladesh came back strongly in the second to register a 36-run win in Mirpur. It was the Bangladesh batsmen who set the game up for their side, putting up a massive total of 211/4 in front of a packed stadium that enjoyed every minute of their innings.
Liton Das (60 off 24 balls), Shakib Al Hasan (42 off 26 balls) and Mahmudullah (43 off 21 balls) were the wreckers in chief. Right from the first ball, the Bangladeshi batsmen took the attack to the Windies bowlers, and very rarely did the run rate drop below 10 runs per over.
The Windies batsmen then adopted a similarly aggressive approach in the chase, but they perished as quickly as they sought to launch themselves into another stratosphere of the run-rate. Rovman Powell did contribute with a 34-ball 50, but the pressure of chasing a high score eventually weighed down on the batting line-up, as they were all out for a score of 175.
Going into the third T20I, the form of Shakib Al Hasan will be critical for the hosts. The all-rounder first hit five fours and a six while batting, and followed it up with figures of 5/21 with the ball, breaking the back of the Windies batting line up.
In pressure situations (like the final is expected to be), often the team possessing the most number of skill sets comes out trumps in the T20 format. In Shakib, Bangladesh has one of the best in the world when it comes to being a jack of all trades.
The victory in the second T20I also shows progress for Bangladesh, after being dismissed for a paltry score of 129 in the first T20I. Windies chased that total in just 10.5 overs, emphatically demonstrating the strength they have if their batsmen get into the groove. If Bangladesh bat first in the decider, it would serve them well to put up, at the very least, a competitive T20 score.
While for Windies, their bowlers need to get back on track after three of the five bowlers used in the last T20I conceded in excess of 10 runs an over, while one went for 9.5 runs an over. The only bowler who returned with economical figures was Fabian Allen (4-0-29-1).
But above all, as is often the case with ‘finals’, it may just come down to who holds their nerve the best on the given day.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Rubel Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Mohammad Saifuddin, Abu Hider Rony, Ariful Haque, Mustafizur Rahman
Windies: Carlos Brathwaite (c), Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Fabian Allen, Kesrick Williams, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Shai Hope, Sherfane Rutherford, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas
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