Bangladesh's stunning first-ever Twenty20 win over India brought back smiles to a team left in turmoil by weeks of scandal, according to man of the match Mushfiqur Rahim.
The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman scored an unbeaten 60 on Sunday to anchor Bangladesh's chase of 149 in pollution-hit New Delhi.
Skipper Mahmudullah Riyad hit the winning six in the final over to give Bangladesh their first T20 win over India in nine attempts and a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The Bangladesh players danced in the Delhi smog, having eased what Mushfiqur called the “toughest” weeks of his career following a two-year ban on star player and captain Shakib Al Hasan for failing to disclose corrupt approaches.
The past month also saw a player revolt against the Bangladesh board over pay.
“In my 15 years, these last two or three weeks were the toughest that I have faced,” Mushfiqur said after the seven-wicket win.
“Before I left Bangladesh, I said the only thing that can put us on the right track is if we can win a couple of matches or play really well.
“So this brings smiles and calmness in our team and the whole nation. That's what we have done and we will try continue this form.” Bangladesh were also without Tamim Iqbal, who took leave for family reasons, when Mahmudullah won the toss and elected to field first.
Their bowlers restricted India to 148 for six and then Mushfiqur took charge after Bangladesh lost opener Liton Das, for seven, in the first over.
Mushfiqur put on 60 for the third wicket with Soumya Sarkar, who made 39, and hit eight fours and a six in his 43-ball knock.
“It is a great moment for Bangladesh,” said Mushfiqur.
“We are missing a couple of key players but the way the young players stuck together and the way bowlers bowled on this track, especially against India, it's outstanding.” He added that winning had given Bangladesh “the freedom to play... fearless cricket”.
With regular skipper Virat Kohli rested for the series, India were sloppy in the field. Krunal Pandya dropped Mushfiqur on 38 and poor judgement in two TV reviews also cost the hosts.
Yuzvendra Chahal rapped Mushfiur on the pad but India did not opt for a review following wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant's call. Replays indicated the ball would have hit leg stump.
“It was a defendable score, and we made mistakes on the field. The guys are a bit inexperienced, and they can learn from that, perhaps not make them the next time,” said stand-in-skipper Rohit Sharma.
“The reviews were a mistake by our side.” The second T20 is in Rajkot on Thursday.