Bangladesh hold nerve to win series

Bangladesh hold nerve to win series

The Report by George Binoy

Bangladesh 221 for 8 (Mahmudullah 48, Narine 3-38) beat West Indies 217 (Pollard 85, Bravo 51, Shafiul 3-31) by two wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Bangladesh’s batsmen held it together, but only just. After failing to chase 211 last night, they overcame three difficult phases in their pursuit of a target of similar proportion, to win a series they had led 2-0 but almost let slip out of their grasp. Twenty-four hours after their fans exited Shere Bangla in despair, the stadium was a venue of riotous celebration, as Nasir Hossain carved the winning boundary to drag his team to a two-wicket victory and claim the series against West Indies 3-2.

There was chaos at the finish. With one run needed, Nasir smashed the ball over cover and raised his arms in triumph as he completed the winning run. His partner, the No. 10 Elias Sunny, however, did not make it to the other end because he thought the ball had gone for four. The fielder in the deep returned it and Kieran Powell uprooted a stump amid the celebrations. Darren Sammy’s protests that a run had not been completed prompted the umpires to check. No run had indeed been completed; nobody had been run out either. Everyone took their positions again and Nasir’s slashing bat sparked off another round of celebrations.

The confusion in those final moments was in contrast to the calm with which Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah and Nasir steered a tense chase, after Bangladesh’s bowlers had recovered admirably from a Kieron Pollard battering.

Chasing 217, Bangladesh were 30 for 3 in the ninth over, the top order unable to withstand Kemar Roach’s pace and bounce. The previous evening, the collapse had ended only when the hosts were shot out for 136, but not in this deciding contest.

The shift in momentum was immediate; Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah scored 29 runs off the 11 balls following Jahurul’s dismissal. West Indies’ bowling was poor: their lengths were too short and their lines were scattered outside off and down leg side, resulting in 18 wides. They had conceded 26 extras in each of the previous three ODIs; they gave away 27 today.

Sammy, who excelled with bat and ball in the fourth match, leaked 16 runs in the tenth over. He conceded six runs in wides, bowled a long-hop that Mahmudullah pulled for four and a half-volley that was driven to the cover boundary. The change bowlers also struggled. Andre Russell pitched short and wide and was cut twice by Mushfiqur to the boundary. Sunil Narine bowled five tight balls in his first over before the sixth was loose and punished. Roach returned for his second spell in the 19th over and he too conceded two boundaries.

Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah ran hard between the wickets, and cut and pulled forcefully. Only when they had added 91 at better than a run a ball did West Indies have any respite. Both batsmen were bowled by Narine in their 40s and Bangladesh were in front no more.

After 30 overs in the first innings, West Indies had been 145 for 3. Bangladesh, at the same stage of their chase, were 148 for 5. West Indies had collapsed thereafter, though, while Bangladesh did not.

Nasir, in the company of rookie Mominul Haque, added 53 for the sixth wicket. They consolidated at first, and,once the batting Powerplay was taken in the 36th over, they attacked. Nasir slogged Veerasammy Permaul over the midwicket boundary to bring the runs required to fewer than 40. And when Mominul was dismissed with Bangladesh close, Sohag Gazi took then closer with quick boundaries. He too fell, but Nasir stayed the course.

That Bangladesh were not chasing a target closer to 250 was because their spinners took a clutch of wickets on either side of a 132-run stand between Pollard and Darren Bravo. They kept West Indies scoreless for 34 deliveries, between overs 2.6 and 8.4, and dismissed Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle during that period to leave the visitors on 17 for 3.

The repair job was up to Bravo and Pollard, who had failed in three matches after saying he would smash the ball into another city. Pollard didn’t hit any into Khulna, but he hit eight balls for six between midwicket and long-off, punishing Sunny in particular.

Mushfiqur needed to call on a fifth spinner to dismiss Pollard; Mominul got one to keep low and sneak past the bat to hit off stump to dismiss him for 84 for 74 balls. A real scrap was in progress as West Indies began the last ten overs on 188 for 5 and Mahmudullah struck twice in the 41st over; his first wicket was of Bravo for 51.

West Indies were dismissed in 48 overs, and in a game of small margins, 12 unused deliveries and 27 runs concedes in extras was the largesse Bangladesh needed to achieve a momentous result.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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