Chris Greaves enjoyed the performance of a lifetime as he inspired Scotland to a shock six-run victory over Bangladesh in their opening match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
In just his second T20 international, the all-rounder hit 45 off 28 deliveries to salvage Scotland’s innings before taking two crucial wickets as Bangladesh ran out of time in reply.
Bangladesh might have been favourites to emerge from Group B into the Super 12s, instead it is Scotland who are off to a flyer in a game that looked to be running away from them midway through the first innings.
“It's a huge win for us, it’s something we’ve been planning for a long time. It’s been a long two years since the qualifying tournament," said skipper Kyle Coetzer.
“Until a month ago we had played two games of cricket as a group so there was a lot of planning behind the scenes, a lot of guys working hard and it sometimes seemed you were working for nothing because our tours kept getting cancelled. So that was really hard for us to manage.
“But now we’re reaping the rewards of keeping the faith that this tournament would come around and we would be a better team for it when we arrive out here.
“There have been a lot of sacrifices for many players, associate cricket is very hard and to get the opportunity we do when we get out here, it’s important to take it because otherwise if you get brushed aside people don’t appreciate how hard associate cricket is. We’ve made some good strides and I’m really proud.”
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) October 17, 2021
Coetzer had fallen to Mohammad Saifuddin for a seven-ball duck but Matthew Cross and George Munsey, in particular, rebuilt.
It took the introduction of spin to change things, as Mahedi Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan took five wickets for eight runs with Mahedi removing the two set batters in one over, just as Munsey looking to be cutting loose with 29 off 23.
Shakib’s double allowed him to overhaul Lasith Malinga as the most prolific wicket-taker in the history of T20Is with 108.
With Scotland reduced to 53 for six, Bangladesh looked to be in total control, but then Greaves came to the party.
In his first T20I innings, the all-rounder combined with Mark Watt to put on 51 and get things back on track for the Scots.
The reverse sweep was Greaves’ go-to weapon, hitting Afif Hossain for four before lifting Mahedi for six the following over.
Even after Watt had been caught in the deep for 22 by Soumya Sarkar off the bowling of Taskin Ahmed, Greaves continued to flourish, hitting the next three deliveries for two fours either side of an uppercut for six.
His knock eventually came to an end in the final over when Shakib did brilliantly to hold on to a steepling catch after the Scot had flicked Mustafizur Rahman’s slower ball down to fine leg.
Mustafizur removed Josh Davey with a searing yorker with his next delivery but Brad Wheal dealt with the hat-trick ball before what turned out to be a crucial six from Safyaan Sharif helped his side reach 140 for nine.
In reply for Bangladesh, Soumya smashed the second ball over midwicket for four but then paid the price when he tried to do it again and found Munsey in the deep.
He was soon joined back in the hutch by Liton Das, Munsey again the man with the safe hands as the opener could only lift a slower ball to mid-off.
At 18 for two, Bangladesh needed to rebuild, and in Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim, they had two men with the experience to do so.
They took their time in putting on 47 before Greaves entered the fray and swung the game once again.
Shakib tried to go after his very first delivery, but did not hit it cleanly, picking out Calum MacLeod over midwicket as he fell for 20.
And in Greaves’s next over it was Mushfiqur who tried to scoop the ball over the keeper but failed to connect and was bowled for 38 as the momentum shifted towards the Scots.
At that point, Bangladesh needed 67 from 41 deliveries with skipper Mahmudullah and Afif at the crease, although the latter was removed just as he seemed to be giving the Tigers a shot - finding Davey off the bowling of Watt after making 18 from 12 deliveries.
While Greaves was the man of the hour, MacLeod was doing his part in the field, adding a brilliant catch of Nurul Hasan in the penultimate over, followed by the skipper three balls later off the bowling of Wheal to effectively seal it as the favourites came up six runs short.
Next up for Scotland is a clash with Papua New Guinea, who were well beaten by Oman in their opening game.
“We’re really disappointed," said Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah. "On that wicket and that ground, I think 140 was very much gettable. As a batting unit, we made a lot more mistakes than the right things. So we need to see the areas where we could have done better and we need to pull our socks up and try to win the next game.”