Bangladesh have beaten New Zealand in home conditions earlier as well. So their victory in the recent one-day series wasn’t surprising. They had also given the Kiwis a close run in the Tests that concluded prior to the one-dayers. But, the most impressive aspect of Bangladesh’s 3- 0 victory was that they did not allow New Zealand to dominate during the series, and instead were the team that were mostly on top of the opponents. Except for the final match, Bangladesh’ bowlers were one-up on New Zealand’s batsmen. In fact, they were better than the visitors in most departments, which justifies the 3-0 score line.
In the first game at Mirpur, Bangladesh did not put up a match-winning score on the board, but their bowlers made sure that the runs were enough for them to notch up a win. Rubel Hossain bowled with such vigour for his six-for that New Zealand’s chase came to a screeching halt. And while the rest did not pick up many wickets, they did keep the runs down. Further, while Bangladesh could have done better with the bat, the situation could have been worse for them had Mushfiqur Rahim and Naeem Islam not come up with fighting half-centuries. Their stand kept the hosts in the hunt, and eventually proved to be a significant one in the context of the match.
In the second match at Mirpur as well, Bangladesh could not post a big score, but their bowlers again came to the rescue. Impressively, this time it was an even more well-rounded effort. Opening bowlers Mashrafe Mortaza and Sohag Gazi picked up three scalps each while Mominul Haque came up with a couple of crucial strikes. Bangladesh could have done better with the bat, since only Tamim Iqbal managed to cross the fifty mark. Thanks to the bowlers though, Bangladesh managed to clinch the series, and their batsmen were under less pressure as they headed to Fatullah.
With the series in the bag, Bangladesh would have been a relaxed outfit when they headed into the inconsequential final game. It showed in their bowling as, for the first time, their bowlers conceded over 300 in the series. But, Bangladesh found a new hero with the bat in this match as well. Opener Shamsur Rahman played a brilliant counter-attacking knock at the top to set up the chase, following which Naeem Islam and Nasir Hossain ensured victory was achieved in a close game. The series victory is another indicator of Bangladesh’s growing stature while playing at home.
As for New Zealand, they would rue the fact that their batsmen couldn’t stand up to the challenge. It was only in the final ODI that their batters showed some spunk, with Ross Taylor smashing a hundred and Colin Munro making an impressive half-century. In both the earlier matches, New Zealand were in with a chance to win chasing scores well below 300, but faltered. Their bowling was competent, but you cannot secure victory by performing well only in one aspect of the sport.
--By A Cricket Analyst