Not since Tyler Durden in Fight Club has something changed character as dramatically as the pitch in Guyana did. Apologies if that ravages for you a famous Hollywood plot twist but that's exactly what Bangladesh were in for on Wednesday (July 25), their decision to chase considering the inclement weather later turning pear-shaped on a metamorphosed, even unrecognizable, 22 yards. Windies's incredible series-levelling win -- or Bangladesh's hallucinatory loss -- by 3 runs was the kind of sport that gets people springing out of their beds on a weekday.
Even if you look at this loss as just another botched chase in cricket, and ignore the flourishing morbid trend that Bangladesh find themselves in the middle of, the fact that they lost after racking up their fastest team fifty (off 26 balls) in ODIs on a pitch that wasn't exactly a friend has to be gut-wrenching. Unlike Shimron Heytmer, whose second ODI hundred earlier in the match was stunning owing to the situation more than the conditions on offer, Bangladesh had a platform to launch to a win. 79 for 1 after 10 overs chasing 272 is not where you lose from.
If Jason Holder, with an opening spell of 2-0-30-0, was at the receiving end of Anamul Haque's 9-ball 23 at the start, he was the man who closed it for the Windies too, defending seven runs off the last over and staking a claim to a better character arc than the pitch -- just that this went from bad to good.
But how did it get so close? Spin, spinners, and a go-go pitch where Chris Gayle bowled seven overs for 26 runs to bring to fruition the dismissal of a well-set Tamim Iqbal on 54 by Devendra Bishoo. Together with Ashley Nurse, Windies's spin twins picked 2 for 73 to not just curb the run-rate -- which had seen a "drop" to 6.00 at the first drinks break -- but also leave Bangladesh without Shakib Al Hasan, who fell in the 30th over to Nurse.
But all wasn't lost then. Mahmudullah (39 off 51) and Mushfiqur Rahim (68 off 67) put on a 87-run stand for the fourth wicket, taking Bangladesh closer to the target as fast as you can on a pitch where the ball's spinning to rupture your moral fabric. It was Mahmudullah's run out in the 46th over first, with 40 needed from 30, and then Rahim's wicket, brought about by Holder redeemingly when 8 runs were needed off 6 balls, that once and for all upended the game in favour of the Windies.
In hindsight, Hetmyer's 103-run stand with Rovman Powell for the fifth wicket in the first innings proved decisive. The only chance he offered was off Rubel Hossain on 79, when he miscued a slower delivery into the deep and relished Shakib Al Hasan drop it over his right shoulder -- for a six. So stunned were Bangladesh that they went for a review right off the next delivery, only to see Hetmyer survive again, this time rightly to a ball pitching a foot outside leg stump.
Bangladesh, after picking the last five Windies wickets for 47 runs, had the chance to put the kibosh on Hetmyer's magnificent hundred and win their first series overseas since 2009, but all they had were wickets off full tosses -- two of them, with 8 runs needed from 7 balls! -- in a loud exhibition of dispiriting panic. Much like Durden, that's an identity disorder Bangladesh can do without.
Brief scores: Windies 271 in 49.3 overs (Shimron Hetmyer 125, Rovman Powell 44; Rubel Hossain 3-61) beat Bangladesh 268/6 in 50 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 68, Shakib Al Hasan 56, Tamim Iqbal 54; Ashley Nurse 1-34) by 3 runs.