A dominant all-round performance from Shakib Al Hasan helped Bangladesh secure a historic series win in Mirpur, their first against a top-flight opposition. Shakib’s fifth ODI century rescued the home team from the depths of 44 for 3 and lifted them to a formidable 241, a target that proved nine runs too many for New Zealand, who now trail 0-3 in the series, with one game to go. Shakib then struck with the ball and, despite a valiant maiden hundred from Kane Williamson who battled through injury during the latter part of his innings, slammed the door on the visitors with three wickets to lead Bangladesh to a famous victory.
New Zealand’s top order had not fired as a unit so far in the tour, and their performance in today’s must-win encounter was no different. BJ Watling was trapped in front for 6 by Abdur Razzak and Brendon McCullum soon followed him to the dressing room, despite having looked good for a characteristically frenetic knock with a couple of early boundaries down the ground. Ross Taylor, who had been the pick of New Zealand’s batsmen in the series, then compounded matters for his team by picking out the deep square-leg fielder in a style of dismissal that has become an all too familiar sight for his fans back home.
Shakib was quick to have spinners operating at both ends and the ploy paid dividends once more. Aaron Redmond succumbed to a straighter one from Shakib in the 17th over, before Daniel Vettori perished while attempting to increase the run rate, leaving the visitors reeling at 80 for 5.
Williamson and Grant Elliott, however, were on hand to provide some much needed stability to the New Zealand run-chase, and accumulated intelligently through the middle period to give the visitors some hope of reaching their target. Williamson was especially impressive in his approach, as he confidently negotiated the spinners who had wreaked so much havoc on his teammates throughout the series, picking up the singles and twos with relative ease and even hoisting Shakib over midwicket for consecutive sixes. Elliott, too, played his part in the recovery, feeding the strike to the well-set youngster at the other end, but fell during the batting Powerplay in the 37th over. Attempting to sweep Shakib, he managed only to top-edge it to Razzak who took an excellent catch, running backwards from square leg.
Kyle Mills came and went, trying to hit out, further denting New Zealand’s hopes of a successful chase, and a hamstring injury that crippled Williamson soon after didn’t help matters either. Nathan McCullum arrived at the crease with 70 to get from 10 overs but despite some lusty blows, was not able to get his side close to the asking rate. Williamson reached his hundred in the 48th over, having batted through immense discomfort for a substantial part of his innings, but when Nathan McCullum and Daryl Tuffey fell off successive deliveries chasing an unlikely 20 runs in the last 11 deliveries, New Zealand’s hopes fell squarely on Williamson’s shoulders. Unfortunately for the visitors, the task proved too much for the young man.
The challenge was before New Zealand when Shakib’s expertly crafted 106 off 113 deliveries had set up a competitive total for Bangladesh on a slow, turning pitch. He came to the crease with his team struggling, but combined well with Imrul Kayes to take the hosts out of immediate danger. He then posted half-century stands with Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah as Bangladesh recovered well. Shakib scored at around a run a ball throughout his innings, piercing the off-side field with surgical precision early on, but relying more on deft dabs and sweeps as the innings wore on in the energy-sapping Mirpur heat. The New Zealand slow bowlers were unable to cause him any trouble.
Shakib’s departure with the score on 216 sparked a lower-order collapse, however, as the New Zealand seamers came back in the batting Powerplay to restrict the hosts, who at one stage threatened a total in excess of 260. Hamish Bennett, the debutant fast bowler, was especially impressive in the late overs, varying his pace and length to pick up a couple of wickets to go with his top order scalp and finish with figures of 3 for 44. Bangladesh were all out in the 49th over, but thanks to an excellent captain’s knock they had scored enough to secure a famous win and spark scenes of euphoric celebration from the Mirpur crowd.