Chris Greaves’ fantastic performance with bat and ball powered Scotland to a six-run victory against favourites Bangladesh in Muscat, Oman, on Sunday.
After losing skipper Kyle Coetzer for a duck, Scotland rallied to 45-1 thanks to several muscular George Munsey boundaries but spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Mahedi Hasan ripped through the top order, reducing them to 53-6 before Chris Greaves’ 45 helped them race to 140.
Bangladesh lost both openers cheaply but Shakib (20 off 27) and Mushfiqur Rahim (38 from 36) consolidated before both fell to Greaves.
Captain Mahmudullah (23 from 22) and Afif Hossain (18 from 12) kept their side in the game but Scotland’s composed work in the field saw them squeeze their opponents out to a well-deserved win.
Bangladesh began brightly, with good control of length stymying Scotland’s hopes of a fast start. Perhaps under pressure from several animated appeals and swings-and-misses, captain Coetzer failed to jab his bat down in time to keep out a Mohammad Saifuddin yorker and departed for zero.
Early in the fourth over, Munsey received a reprieve, skying a shot to the boundary before Shakib shelled a tricky catch over the rope for a maximum. With a no ball called, Scotland ran two off the free hit, effectively turning a potential wicket into eight runs. That would prove costly.
Hasan took two wickets in just four balls, dismissing Mat Cross (11 from 17) and George Munsey (29 from 23) with clever variations, before two more wickets in three Shakib deliveries saw the wily all-rounder overtake Lasith Malinga as the highest T20 international wicket-taker of all time.
Greaves (45 from 28) and Mark Watt (22 from 17) then steadied the ship, recording a partnership of 51 to help Scotland reach 140 at the end of the innings.
Scotland’s pace attack of Brad Wheal, Josh Davey and Safyaan Sharif looked threatening early on, restricting Bangladesh to just 25-2 after the six-over powerplay, with Munsey taking two early catches to dismiss both opening batters for just five.
Mushfiqur was given a reprieve on just 1 when Davey jagged a quick one into his pads but although Scotland’s review showed the ball clipping the bails, the pint-sized veteran survived on umpire’s call and accelerated from there, walloping Michael Leask for successive sixes to ignite the chase.
Shakib failed to get hold of a short-pitched long hop from part-time leg-spinner Greaves, departing for 20, before Mushfiqur fell to the same figure as he failed to flick a googly over the wicketkeeper and saw his bails dislodged.
Mahmudullah and Hossain hit a couple of crowd-stirring shots to the rope, but Davey, Wheal and Mark Watt stifled the batters, taking regular wickets as several final-over boundaries gave a perhaps unrealistic impression of a tight finish, Bangladesh eventually finishing six runs short.
WHICH PLAYERS STARRED?
Mahedi Hasan – After several expensive overs from seamers Saifuddin and Mustafizur, captain Mahmudullah turned to his spinners to exert control in the middle overs, and they did not disappoint, Hasan finishing with fine figures of 3-19.
Shakib Al Hasan – What else can you say about Shakib? A miserly 2-17 with the ball, a useful 20 with the bat and holding onto a difficult catch to dismiss Greaves demonstrates his match-winning capabilities in all disciplines. He’ll regret that dropped catch though!
Chris Greaves – The 31-year-old started his innings alongside another new batter in Mark Watt and with the team in trouble at 53-6.
But he accumulated a measured 45 and anchored the lower order until the final over to help give his side something reasonable to defend. He also took the key wickets of Shakib and Mushfiqur. The man-of-the-match.
Mushfiqur Rahim – He may have survived a scare on 1 but hit a nerveless 38 to leave his side in a good position. However, he will probably be disappointed with the manner of his dismissal.
Mark Watt – The stocky left-armer supported Greaves well with 22 off 17 from his bat, with economical figures of 1-19 just reward for his bowling. Wheal, who took three wickets at key times, also deserves a mention.
CATCH OF THE MATCH
Hossain took a corker on the boundary, helping send Richie Berrington back to the changing rooms.
Berrington slammed a shot high towards long-on, perhaps not catching the ball as cleanly as he would have liked, giving Hossain an opportunity to take the catch.
Back-pedalling towards the boundary, he pouched the ball, realised his backward momentum would take him over the rope and cleverly threw the ball back in field before jumping out, jumping back in and snaffling the catch at the second attempt.
Calum MacLeod repeated the trick to dismiss Nurul Hasan, and his sprinting catch to send Shakib packing runs Hossain close, too.
Group A gets going on Monday with Ireland – making their sixth appearance at the T20 World Cup – taking on Netherlands from 11am and then 2014 champions Sri Lanka meeting debutants Namibia from 3pm.
Sri Lanka’s slide down the T20I rankings means they have had to enter the first round, rather than achieving direct entry to the Super 12 stage alongside England, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Afghanistan.
Both Scotland and Bangladesh are back underway on Tuesday, with Scotland facing Papua New Guinea at 11am BST, while Bangladesh come up against Oman at 3pm BST in the afternoon.
Watch the T20 World Cup live on Sky between now and November 14. Ireland face Netherlands from 10.30am on Monday on Sky Sports Cricket, with Sri Lanka vs Namibia following from 2.30pm on Sky Sports Mix.