The Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium may have been operating at a fraction of its full capacity due to World Cup renovations, but another nail-biting victory to Bangladesh in the final ODI against New Zealand sparked rapturous celebrations in the Mirpur crowd as the home team stormed to a 4-0 whitewash. Bangladesh had been bowled out for just 174 by a spirited New Zealand attack that showed plenty of fire in the first half of the dead rubber, but a catastrophic top-order collapse ensured that not even a trademark fightback from the lower-order could restore some pride to an outfit that was thoroughly outplayed throughout the series.
The rot began with Brendon McCullum’s wicket, when he top-edged a Rubel Hossain delivery that was far too wide to pull in the second over before Jesse Ryder capped his torrid tour, playing all around one that kept low in Rubel’s next over. BJ Watling was then run out after Ross Taylor called for an ill-advised second run. When Kane Williamson and Taylor were undone by two terrific deliveries in consecutive overs, it left New Zealand reeling at 20 for 5. The visitors seemed headed towards their most humiliating defeat of the disheartening tour. Bangladesh were on the attack, and nothing short of a gutsy lower-order fightback could prevent the hosts from inflicting an embarrassing defeat.
Grant Elliott and Daniel Vettori combined following Taylor’s exit and set about quietly repairing the damage with a partnership worth 86 runs. The pair battled through the initial tough period, taking few risks and picking up the singles on offer to keep the score moving along, albeit at a snail’s pace. The batsmen rode their luck early on too. Vettori offered a regulation chance off Mahmudullah but Junaid Siddique at slip made a hash of it, and Vettori was lucky to survive an excellent lbw shout off the same bowler in his next over. Elliott was also rapped on the pads by a Shakib Al Hasan delivery that was heading towards middle stump, but may have just been hit outside the line, which created enough doubt in the umpire’s mind to rule not-out.
The pair became more adventurous as they spent time at the crease, picking up the occasional boundary and hitting the gaps with ease as the field began to spread. Vettori even waltzed down the pitch to loft Abdur Razzak over long-on for six in the 26th over, but fell attempting to swing Shakib over midwicket soon after, as Shafiul Islam made good ground to take a fantastic diving catch.
New Zealand still required 69 to win with four wickets remaining when Vettori perished and Nathan McCullum’s dismissal soon after made things even tougher. Kyle Mills provided support for Elliott in a 26-run stand, but when Elliott departed for a determined 59 with 30 runs still to get, the game swung once again in Bangladesh’s favour.
Mills wasn’t about to give up without a fight however, as he set about shepherding the sole remaining tailender, Hamish Bennett, while slamming the Bangladesh bowlers to all parts during the batting Powerplay. He crashed boundaries down the ground and over cover in the final overs. When eight runs were required from the last over with Mills on strike, the match was poised for a thoroughly gripping finale.
Rubel’s first delivery of the final over was a full toss on the pads and Mills swung it around to the fine-leg boundary to make it four needed off five. The match had ebbed and flowed throughout the chase and it seemed that New Zealand were once again on top with Mills having to hit just one more boundary with the field restrictions in play. Rubel made sure he had the last word however, following up the errant first ball with two terrific yorkers, the second of which took out Mills’ leg stump, sparking a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
The match had been set up by an excellent bowling performance from the New Zealand attack, who dismissed the hosts for 174 in 44.2 overs. New Zealand made early breakthroughs through Kyle Mills and Andy McKay before choking the runs in the middle period to trigger a lower-order collapse that left Bangladesh defending a meagre total.
Daniel Vettori was at his miserly best through the middle overs, giving away just 32 runs and claiming three wickets. His double-strike in consecutive overs to get rid of Raqibul Hasan and Imrul Kayes put the hosts firmly on the back foot at 77 for 4, before Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim came together in a 55-run stand that rescued the Bangladesh innings from an embarrassing collapse.
Allrounder Elliott dismissed both batsmen in quick succession however, and combined well with fast bowler Hamish Bennett, playing his second game, to put together a parsimonious six-over patch where just five runs were scored for the loss of one wicket. Elliott’s short spell summed up New Zealand’s tight bowling performance during the middle period – his four overs costing just seven runs and yielding two wickets.
The Bangladesh lower-order failed to offer any sort of resistance, succumbing meekly to some intelligent bowling from the tourists and losing their last six wickets for just 42 runs. The modest total proved to be enough for the hosts however, who completed a whitewash that will be talked about in Bangladesh for years to come.