Mirpur: More than four weeks after arriving in Bangladesh, New Zealand finally won a game. They beat Bangladesh by 15 runs in the one-off Twenty20 in Mirpur, a testament to their prowess in this format over the hosts. Colin Munro and Anton Devcich gave them the platform after which their bowlers merely had to ride out Bangladesh’s over aggressiveness in the chase.
New Zealand’s 204 for 5 was the highest score against Bangladesh in this format, and there have only been four successful chases of over 200. Bangladesh fell 15 short of their target.
The home bowlers, however, were not at their best after the stand-in captain Kyle Mills decided to bat first. New Zealand started off briskly, before slowing down and later gathering pace. Devcich, who began the onslaught, scored New Zealand’s second fastest Twenty20 fifty, off 24 balls. He made the best of a let-off in the first over of the game when Al-Amin Hossain dropped him at short fine leg off Mashrafe Mortaza. He struck six boundaries in the first 2.3 overs, before slogging Sohag Gazi for a six over midwicket in the fourth over that cost 16.
He was finally dismissed in the tenth over when he was caught at wide long-on for 59 off 31 balls with ten fours and a six, an excellent start to his international Twenty20 career.
While Bangladesh would have hoped that they had recovered from the Devcich onslaught, Munro’s attack left the bowlers with no answers. Bangladesh conceded 118 off the last ten overs, 55 of which came in the last five as the batsmen threw everything at the ball.
Munro batted at a higher gear after facing just five deliveries. He exploited the poor bowling lengths by striking four sixes off the next eight balls. Abdur Razzak was hit over midwicket and long-on in the 12th over before Mahmudullah conceded an enormous switch hit six for which Munro turned around, leant back and smashed the short ball to a right-hander’s midwicket. He continued in the same vein, ending up on an unbeaten 73 off 39 balls with five sixes and three fours.
Debutant Al-Amin took two wickets for 31 runs from his four overs but his more experienced colleagues had a humbling time with the ball. Mortaza gave away 46 from four overs while neither Gazi nor Razzak bowled their full quota. Bangladesh’s Twenty20 bowling has been a worry for a very long time, and with the World T20 a few months away, this area should keep the captain, coaching staff and bowlers busy throughout the winter.
Bangladesh’s reply to 204 was frenetic. Shamsur Rahman slammed a boundary off the first ball of the innings and next ball found the long leg fielder. The other opener, Ziaur Rahman, then opened up with a hoick over midwicket before he too perished off the next ball. Bangladesh lost their openers in the first over.
Mominul Haque followed the openers’ approach and departed too, but Mushfiqur Rahim and Naeem Islam stayed at the crease and continued to attack. They blasted 23 runs off the fourth over of the innings bowled by Mitchell McClenaghan, with Mushfiqur hitting three successive fours off the first three balls, and Naeem following up with a four and a six. Bangladesh reached 50 in the fourth over, but the partnership ended soon after when Naeem mistimed a slog and walked back for 18 off 10 balls.
Mushfiqur kept with the required rate, reaching a maiden Twenty20 fifty off 28 balls and adding 54 for the fifth wicket with Nasir Hossain. But Mushfiqur departed at the end of the eleventh over when he too was out slogging, but it was a good innings, having struck seven fours and a six.
Bangladesh’s hopes dissipated further when Nathan McCullum claimed a superb catch over his head off his own bowling, getting rid of Nasir for 28 off 20 balls. Mahmudullah and Gazi added 57 for the seventh wicket and while the required run-rate remained within reach, the New Zealand fielders did a fine job. McCullum and Luke Ronchi teamed up to run out Gazi who was looking dangerous in his 15-ball 24. When Mahmudullah fell in the penultimate over, the chase was all but over.
The loss, however, will not take the gloss off Bangladesh’s remarkable month when they drew a Test series and beat the visitors 3-0 in the one-dayers in a prolonged display of dominance hardly seen in these shores.
New Zealand 204 for 5 (Munro 73*, Devcich 59) beat Bangladesh 189 for 9 (Mushfiqur 50, Mahmudullah 34, Southee 3-38) by 15 runs