Bangladesh win Women's Twenty20 Asia Cup
The flying Tigresses rise to glory
It wasn’t the usual day. The moon was visible on a sunny morning. The nights were brighter than a pale blue sky. The sun never rose and never did it set. The flowers always blossomed like a radiant star.
It was a day when the Universe was shifting its paradigm. No longer will things stay the same. It is, after all, only nature. While time might be a circular river, it is the change that is constantly coming up to one point and making all the difference.
It is the day when the nebula bursts into a star to mark the constant of change; a new beginning.
You could see them flying out of the newly-born star. They were wearing red and were cloaked with two green wings. They were roaring with might as the rulers of the new star.
They are the flying Tigresses, the queens of the new star.
They say that the best time comes after the worst of moments. It might sound a tad poetic but it is true. After being hammered by South Africa away from home, not much was expected from Bangladesh ahead of Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup.
In fact, for some, the group stages was just a formality as India and Pakistan were the auto-choice finalists, with India clinching it in the end.
After all, the Women in Blue don’t know of the concept of losing in Asia Cup.
For the Tigresses, it began with a humiliating loss to Sri Lanka in their opening match. After the South Africa tour, it was expected. They were going to be crushed by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, one of which had already done it.
Haha. How wrong were we?
Next came Pakistan. And the Sultanas – Shamima and Nigar – trampled them.
After that, they choked the Women in Blue with their fangs as Rumana Ahmed led the roar. It was India’s first loss in Asia Cup history.
Thailand and Malaysia were next – and they couldn’t provide a fight. A historic final beckoned as the nebula prepared for the burst – and it was once again against the old enemies.
India had won six of the last six Asia Cups. Heck, they had not even lost a game before the Tigresses grabbed them by the neck in the league match. The odds were stacked against the Bangladeshis… but they had not come this far to leave without putting up a show.
And they decided to chase their dream.
Smriti Mandana was the first victim. Deepti Sharma was preyed on next. The legendary Mithali Raj fell a bit later. Anuja Patil, Veda Krishnamurthy, Tania Bhatia and Shikha Pandey also followed soon.
It was 74/7 after 15 overs. Bangladesh were roaring, pouncing on the Indians, trying to choke them into submission.
But Harmanpreet Kaur – ah, that beauty of a spirit – stayed on, resolute in her fervor. She fought on like a Samurai warrior with a bat for a sword and wielded it with vehemence as a counter attack.
She alone made 50% of her teams runs when she finally got out of the last ball of the innings after making 56 off 42 balls. India posted a total of 112 and Bangladesh needed 113 to win the Asia Cup.
For the Bangladesh bowlers, Rumana Ahmed and Khadija Tul Kubra took two wickets each while Salma Khatun and Jahanara Alam took a wicket each.
Going into the break, the Tigresses looked really confident as there was a strong belief visible in their eyes.
The Tigresses horde
Openers Shamima Sultana and Ayasha Rahman gave Bangladesh a great start. The duo batted cautiously while also keeping the run-rate in check. They looked really comfortable on the crease until Poonam Yadav came into bowl.
The leg-spinner bowled intelligently as she always mixed the flighted and flat deliveries with control. Ayasha Rahman was her first victim as she top-edged her way to Jhulan Goswami’s palms after making 17 from 23 balls.
Shamima Sultana fell next for 16 from 19 – although it will be very difficult to find another ball as bad as that end up becoming a wicket-taking delivery – and Bangladesh were in a spot of bother at 35 for two wickets after 7 overs.
The wickets kept tumbling but the runs also kept flowing. It was like a tug-of-war going on between the two teams, almost as though the old world doesn’t want the nebula to explode into a new star, who is confident that nature will take her through.
At one point, the required run-rate almost touched 8-an-over for Bangladesh. With 43 needing from 34 balls, Nigar Sultana slapped three boundaries in the next three balls to bring the equation to 31 runs from 31 balls.
And then India tightened it again. India gave away only 8 runs in the next two overs and the equation was now 23 runs needed off the last three over. Harmanpreet Kaur then decided to take the ball for the first time in the match.
It was a brave decision on her part, but she conceded 10 runs off that over while also taking the wicket of Fahima Khatun.
13 runs from two overs is not a big deal… if only. The Tigresses could conjure only four runs from the penultimate over.
9 runs to win from the last over.
Bangladesh v/s Pakistan. Men’s Asia Cup 2012 final. The first time Bangladesh men’s team reaches the final of a major tournament. Bangladesh need 9 runs from the last over.
End result: Bangladesh lost by two runs.
Oh, the haunting memories. Darn, the tears. Argh, the painful memories.
To the Bangladeshis, it all comes back. And you can’t blame them, can you? Since Asia Cup 2012, Bangladesh had played in quite a few finals – namely Asia Cup 2016 and Nidahas trophy (which was basically Asia Cup minus Pakistan) – and lost all of them.
And now, once again – we are back to the point of constant in the river of time.
Bangladesh v/s India. Women’s Asia Cup 2018 final. The first time Bangladesh women’s team reaches the final of a major tournament. Bangladesh need 9 runs from the last over.
First ball: Sanjida Islam runs a single. Mahmudulah took a single, too, against Aizaz Cheema in the first ball of the final over of the Asia Cup 2012. Ah, the terrible nostalgias. 8 from 5.
Now was the time. The nebula was ready to burst itself into a new star.
Second ball: Rumana Ahmed makes room and slashes the ball to the fence. She was planning this all along and she pulled it off. Okay, there is something in this now. The can win it. Ah, the nerves. 4 from 4.
Third ball: Rumana – that superwoman – smashed it down the leg with might but couldn’t muster anything more than a single. 3 from 3.
Fourth ball: Sanjida Islam goes ‘full monty’ – borrowing words from Ravi Shastri – and loses her wicket as Veda Krishnamurthy catches it near the fence. The thinking was right. The execution, however, was another story. 3 from 2.
India v/s Bangladesh. World T20 2016. Bangladesh need only two runs from the last three balls. End result: Bangladesh lost by one run. More memories. More agony. More thumping heartbeats.
Fifth ball: Rumana Ahmed takes a single but gets run out after completing it. A rare moment of slipup for the daunting Tigress. It didn’t matter anyway as there was just another ball to play. Everything is now up to Jahanara Alam now. 2 from 1.
Last ball: Jahanara Alam lifts her bat as she gazes at the ball like a Tigress waiting to pounce on her kill. She brings it down with all her might. The ball makes wobbly impact and goes to midwicket.
Run, Jahanara, run!
One run completed. Without even looking up to her partner, she races off towards the other end, for eternity is to be found there. It was the only way she can make herself and her team-mates immortal and everlasting in this mortal world constrained with the finiteness of time.
Run Jahanara, RUN!
The throw comes in, Jahanara doesn’t even care – she is just ready to leap towards her target…
It is this moment. Can you see the light showering them into a new fabric of reality? Can you feel the winter-moist rubbing on their bare skins as it shrouds them to a different dimension?
Can you see it? Can you feel it?
It’s the nebula becoming a star.
The moment of change
The throw is going to fall short but Jahanara has already leaped off the ground. She was flying and so was Bangladesh as the country won its first ever major title in the sport the people love the most.
And it was – fittingly – the Tigresses that brought the glory home.
No team could beat this India team in Asia Cup matches. Bangladesh did it this time. Twice. No team apart from India had ever won the Women’s Asia Cup since its inception.
This time, however, Asia Cup has a new champion – a new star – for the first time and it is the land of the green protected by the flying Tigresses.
India 112/9 (20 overs)
Harmanpreet Kaur – 56 (42) | Rumana Ahmed –
Bangladesh 113/7 (20 overs)
Nigar Sultana – 27 (24) | Poonam Yadav – 4-0-9-4
Bangladesh won by three wickets.
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