NIDAHAS TROPHY, 2018
Nurul Hasan was engaged in an ugly war of words with the Sri Lankan players © AFP
A virtual semifinal that runs deep into the final over can test not just the skills of the players but also their temperament, and unfortunately the latter remained as the lasting image from an otherwise scintillating battle between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Friday (March 16). As hosts Sri Lanka were seemingly getting close to a victory in the last-over thriller, Isuru Udana bowled the second bouncer of the over that Mustafizur Rahman missed before being run out at the non-striker’s end. While the drama seemed incomprehensible in real time, Tamim Iqbal first, and then skipper Shakib Al Hasan presented their account at the end of the game.
When the second short-pitched ball was hurled in at Mustafizur in the 20th over of the innings, the square-leg umpire seemed to have called a no-ball, but just as the batsman was run out in a frenetic attempt, the decision seemed to have been overturned. Mahmudullah, the other batsman in the middle, duly checked with the umpire but while the animated discussion was on, few of the Bangladeshi substitutes came charging onto the field as an ugly scuffle took shape between them and the Sri Lanka players.
“The square leg umpire had signalled it a no-ball and then upon discussions, changed the call, which I don’t think is the right decision,” Shakib said at the end of the match. “I don’t know if the first bouncer was called as one for the over but when the second bouncer was bowled, the umpire did call it a no-ball,” Shakib said following the narrow two-wicket win.
With 12 still needed off four balls, the entire Bangladesh unit was at the boundary side with captain Shakib at the center of it. Matters started to slip fast out of hands when Shakib was involved in an animated discussion with the fourth umpire, before gesturing to his batsmen to come back into the pavilion. Amid the flurry of emotions though, Mahmudullah managed to hit a six to clinch the chase after which more drama unfolded.
Earlier, the Sri Lankan players had mocked the tourists with a snake-charmer dance celebration in response to Mushfiqur Rahim’s Nagin dance celebrations from the record run-chase game against the hosts earlier in the tournament. At the end of the nerve-wracking contest, Bangladesh players invaded the field and imitated their opponents as the situation spiralled out of control again. Bangladesh’s reserve wicket-keeper Nurul Hasan got involved in a spat with Thisara Perera and Kusal Mendis, and it needed Tamim Iqbal to intervene and pull the 24-year-old out of the argument.
“There are so many things that happen but shouldn’t happen. First of all, I need to remain calm. I was overjoyed, especially the excitement was on top, emotions were there too, so a combination of that made that happen. Next time, this situation arises, I will understand and know how to react. I will be more careful the next time,” Shakib, who took his t-shirt off during celebrations, noted.
The Bangladesh captain, who was out of action with a finger injury throughout the tournament, had flown in to join his squad only on Thursday afternoon. From a month-long injury-forced layoff to a tight contest, the whole episode seemed to get the better of him. Shakib though believes that such dramatic emotions are a part and parcel of the game and shouldn’t affect the off-field relations.
“What happens on the field should stay on the field and honestly, we [Bangladesh and Sri Lanka] are very good friends, not just the players but also the cricket boards. We have helped each other in terms of crisis. If you see there are so many Sri Lankan players who play in our leagues, in the BPL too, we have some very good relations with them. On the field, of course, I want my team to win and it applies to them too. I am sure that both the teams will take it in the right spirit and the on-field incident won’t affect the off-field relation.”
Earlier, Tamim had expressed regret over the way the team had celebrated and hoped that it would not be carried ahead. “It’s a gentleman’s game, everyone should have behaved better, especially from our team, we could have done it nicely. It’s all done and dusted now. Sri Lankans are great friends. I don’t think this incident will create anything bad.”
Sri Lanka’s star performer of the day, Kusal Janith Perera, though wasn’t sure if the first bouncer was called as one for the over or if the second was called a no-ball. He also mentioned that such things happen on the field of cricket and that it was normal. “I didn’t see the umpire calling the first bouncer as one for the over. It can happen in the middle, we all want to win the game, that’s normal. They are emotional and they want to win the game, they tried to do whatever they can.”
Bangladesh, who will now face India in the final on Sunday, will look to put this bad blood behind them and also hope there are no severe charges labelled against them for the incident.