Harmeet, Taylor, Anderson star as US defeat Bangladesh in dramatic chase

USA Cricket prepare for their T20i series against Bangladesh.

USA chased down 153 Bangladesh runs with three balls to spare to win by five wickets in Tuesday’s series opener at Prairie View Cricket Complex. The win was USA’s fifth consecutive in the T20 format and second against a Full Member.

After winning the toss and choosing to bowl first, USA got the early chance they sought, when Litton Das edged Ali Khan right into the gloves of Monank Patel. The wicket keeper dropped a sure catch, and Bangladesh looked prepared to make the American skipper pay.

While Bangladesh had managed only 11 runs off of the 11 balls leading up to the drop, they would score 23 off of the next 13, and threaten to go into another gear and maximize the powerplay. Jessy Singh’s first over was enough to bring Bangladesh back down to earth. Thanks to Jessy, the fifth over went scoreless and Bangladesh lost their first wicket. A full delivery seamed back into the batting pads of Litton Das for an LBW on the third ball, and USA had drawn first blood.

With the pressure now back on the visiting batters to do the most with the final six balls of the powerplay, USA turned to Steven Taylor to exploit the anticipated aggression. Lefty opener Sourya Sarkar slog swept a catch to Nitish Kumar at deep midwicked on the first ball of the sixth, and the veteran offspinner was just getting warmed up. Bangladesh would close the powerplay with 37 runs and two wickets down. 

The middle overs at Prairie View Cricket Complex have a tendency to go slowly, and Tuesday’s first innings was no exception. Bangladesh would add just 59 more runs while losing two more wickets from the start of the seventh over through the 14th over, 30 of them coming in two Jessy Singh overs which featured two no balls. The other six overs during this span yielded only 29 runs, thanks to a two over cameo from Corey Anderson (10 runs), two overs from the typically economical Harmeet Singh (13 runs) which produced the runout of Shakib Al Hasan, and two more from Steven Taylor, who would claim another lefty when Najmul Shanto charged down the wicket and whiffed, stumped by Monank in the 8th over. 

Taylor ended the innings with three overs and two wickets for only nine runs, having also contributed on the runout of Shakib. A spectacular contribution from a cricketer known more for his dangerous bat. 

Six singles in the 15th off of Saurabh Netravalkar would build more pressure, but some uncharacteristic loose mistakes from Harmeet, including his second no ball and two wides, would add ten to Bangladesh’s total and give them room to breathe heading into the death. 

Ali Khan, who rested during the Canada series, was rudely welcomed back into the attack by Mahmadullah, who scored a four and a six and was aided slightly by another sloppy no ball, which proved to add three free runs, as Bangladesh tacked on 15 in the 17th. 

Harmeet would throw the breaks on in the 18th and limit Mahmadoullah and Towhid Hridoy to just five, as Hridoy brought up his second T20i half century off of 40 balls. Saurabh Netravlakar would reap the benefits of Harmeet’s economy in the 19th ending Mahmadoullah’s threat at 31 from 21. 

After 19, Bangladesh were just 136 for five, but another expensive over from Ali Khan would set the target at 154 for USA, and it could have been worse had Towhid not skyed out to Steven Taylor on the final ball of the innings. 

Just weeks prior to the highly anticipated matchup, USA swept Canada 4-0 in a series at the same venue. One thing which was clear to those who had followed the Canada series, or really any cricket played at PVCC, was that USA would have a significant home field advantage. Environmental factors such as brutally strong winds and road noise have been known to trouble newcomers who also have an unfamiliar wicket to adapt to. 

Another thing that was clear to fans familiar with USA and the Prairie View ground is that Bangladesh had scraped together a very defendable total. 

As they did against Canada, USA sent in Steven Taylor and Monank Patel to get USA started. 

An early miscue by Das gave USA four leg byes, and combined with two wides and a Steven Taylor four put USA at 19 without loss after two. A drop by Shanto at midwicket spared Monank in the third, and he followed up the gift with a six to move USA to 27 runs after three.

It was half way through the power play and USA looked on the right path, and then Monank’s luck shifted when the first ball of the fourth over was bashed by Taylor into the nonstriker stumps off of the fingers of Shoriful Islam. 

Andries Gous would join Taylor in the middle and the two would steer USA to 60 for one after eight overs with plenty of balls and wickets in hand to chase the target. 

After a signature drive over the covers for four on the second ball of the ninth over, Gous would attempt to slog sweep Rishad Hossain, but fail to clear the boundary and instead find the hands of Mustifizar for the second wicket. 

Aaron Jones’ slow start assisted Bangladesh bowlers through the eleventh over, and USA would add only 12 more to move to 72 for two. 

In the twelfth over, Mustafizur would collect two wickets via catches, in line with his modus operandi, removing Taylor (28 from 29) and Aaron Jones (4 from 12). While USA had gone from 60/2 to 74/4 in far too many balls, the departures made way for Corey Anderson and Nitish Kumar, heroes of USA’s fourth win against Canada last month. 

Two seven run overs eased the pair in before Shoriful Islam put the clamps on with a single run 15th over that cost USA the wicket of Nitish Kumar (10 from 10). 

After 15 overs, USA needed 60 runs from 30 balls, and Harmeet Singh was fresh to the crease. And Bangladesh had brought Mustafizur back into the attack to collect on the pressure. 

“I think coach (Stuart Law) is giving me a really clear role and I think what the team needed at that point was me taking a couple of balls and even Corey said ‘you know we can take a couple of balls and see how it looks,’” Harmeet told Energing Cricket. “But the game changer was when Mustifizur came in to bowl with the wind, and you know then we were really in the game, because somebody has to bowl two overs against the wind, and we can get 20 off at any time we want. I think that’s what gave us the confidence that we can finish the game.” 

Indeed, with Mustafizur bowling with the wind, it meant that Bangladesh would be relying on others for two overs with the wind to the back of the batters. 

But Harmeet didn’t wait for Mustafizur‘s over to end, bashing him to cow corner and then straight over his head with the final two balls of the 17th. With just two swings of the bat, USA could clearly see the finish line and needed only 38 from 18. 

Harmeet and Anderson would bash Shoriful Islam for 14 runs in the 18th, before a massive six off Mustifizur in the 19th would leave USA needing only nine off of their final over against Mahmadullah. 

Anderson six. Anderson one, and Harmeet four is how the scoreboard reads for that final over, but it capped a huge 58 run sixth wicket partnership for one of USA’s biggest ever wins, just their second against a full member.

For his destructive contribution of 33 runs from 13 balls, plus four economical overs with the ball, Harmeet Singh was named player of the match. It isn’t often that a cricketer bowls two no balls and finishes as player of the match, and there aren’t many times a team bowls five no balls and wins, but Harmeet will take it.

“I have to take some (responsibility) for that. I think staying indoors and not being able to get outdoor practice a lot an bowling with spikes and stuff (contributed). But there’s no excuse, we shouldn’t be bowling no balls. I think we could have wrapped them up for around 140 without the no balls or hiccups. But even with a not so good game, not our best game, we still managed to be on the winning side.” 

The chase might have belonged to Harmeet and Corey, but Steven Taylor’s bowling innings made it all possible. Contributions from batters like Taylor and Corey Anderson help give the team balance, according to Harmeet. 

“I always rated Steven very highly with his bowling, and I have been having some conversations with the team as well that we have quality batsmen who can give us two to four overs of bowling, and that just makes the balance look so good. With Steven able to do this job consistently for us, it just makes us a much, much better team. Every time we play an international, every time we play a bigger team, that just gives us an extra batter in the team. You know it’s just so good when he takes up the responsibility and that’s what he did today for the team.”

While Bangladesh will surely reach deep into their experience and come back strong on Thursday, Harmeet is optimistic that we’ve not seen the best from USA either. “You don’t imagine being on top of a game like that, so you know sky is the limit.”

Tune in to Emerging Cricket’s Big Innings podcast every week for more on USA Cricket and Major League Cricket news. This week’s guest: Jomboy

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