Bangladesh moved one step closer to a place in the Super 10 of the ICC World T20 2016 by beating the Netherlands by eight runs in Dharamsala. Knowing only a win will do in a difficult Group A, Tamim Iqbal came to the fore, scoring a brilliant unbeaten 83 from just 58 balls (6x4, 3x6), to help Bangladesh to victory at the HPCA Stadium.
Put into bat first, Bangladesh managed 153/7 from their 20 overs, thanks to Tamim's brilliant knock, and in reply Netherlands just could not get going on the slow, bit two-paced, pitch, leaving themselves with too much to do. Holland finished on 145/7 in 20 overs.
Full toll of the new ball, the only time the white cherry would come onto the bat, was necessary for the Netherlands to set themselves on course for the chase, and while Stephan Myburg and Wesley Barresi tried to do that with every passing delivery, the timing just wasn't there.
Netherlands have spent plenty of time in India in an attempt to get used to the conditions, but when it came to the match situation, their batsmen were found a little wanting.
Once Barresi fell in the fifth over to Al-Amin Hossain, Ben Cooper came in and tried to set the tone for the chase with a few nice shots, but Bangladesh just kept chipping away at the wickets, first picking up Myburgh (29, 29b, 5x4) in over number nine and then Ben Cooper in the 12th over.
Ben's brother Tom and captain Peter Borren then went about taking the chase as close as possible, but with the required run rate climbing beyond 10, the pressure told and Borren, after being dropped in the deep by Nassir Hossain, holed out to the same man, while attempting another big slog off Shakib Al Hasan.
When Borren fell, the match was still not entirely out of Holland's reach, with the men in orange needing 42 from the last four overs. However, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza kept the pressure on the batsmen by picking up Roleof Van Der Merwe, the former South Africa international â€“ he should have had Tom Cooper as well, but the bails, strangely, stayed firmly in the groove despite the batsman playing one on to offstump.
That brilliant 17th over from Mortaza (4-0-14-1), where he just conceded three runs, meant Netherlands needed 39 from the final three, and while they took the match to the last over, needing 17 for a win, they fell short in the end.
The Bangladesh innings was about one man â€“ Tamim Iqbal. On a pitch where a batsmen needed to spend some time in the middle before going the T20 way, only Tamim stood tall, scoring 83 of the 153 runs that were scored by the Asia Cup T20 finalists.
Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman scored 15 each, the next highest scorers, with Mahmudullah the only other batsman to get into double figures with 10. That pretty much shows how important Tamim's innings was, because without it, Bangladesh would have been bundled out for a low score and Netherlands would have probably walked away with a comfortable victory.
With a smattering of grass on the wicket, it looked like this pitch would be a bit two-paced, but the slowness was the dominating factor. Coming off quick wickets in Mirpur, the Bangladesh batsmen struggled to adjust to the changing nature of the wicket, and, as a result, there was never really any flow to the innings.
The only flow came via the blade of the left-handed Tamim, who used all his experience to guide Bangladesh to a competitive total. In the end, that experience was the difference, as the Netherlands also fell prey to the slow nature of the wicket.
Watch the highlights of Bangladesh vs Netherlands HERE