Mon, 01 Mar 2021

Mohammad Saifuddin, batsmen help Bangladesh sweep series

ESPNCricInfo
26 Jan 2021, 00:43 GMT+10

Bangladesh 297 for 6 (Mahmudullah 64*, Iqbal 64, Rahim 64, Shakib 51, Joseph 2-48) beat West Indies 177 (Powell 47, Saifuddin 3-51) by 120 runs

The process was different but the result was similar. Chasing a total for the first time in the series, the inexperienced West Indies line-up came a cropper once again to manage just 177 in 44.2 against Bangladesh to lose the ODI series 3-0 and not collect a single point for the ODI Super League. With the top score again coming from Rovman Powell in the lower order, West Indies were no match for Bangladesh's competitive 297 scored on the back of attacking half-centuries from Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, and cautious fifties from Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan.

Unlike in the first two ODIs, the West Indies batsmen showed more fight against the spinners but the twin strikes from Mustafizur Rahman early on, and then in the middle overs from Mohammad Saifuddin meant the visitors were hardly in the chase. No. 3 Nkrumah Bonner blocked one end for a long period and it was only him and Powell who provided any kind of resistance by facing over 40 balls each for contrasting scores of 31 and 47 respectively.

Rahman was the first to strike when he had Kjorn Ottley caught behind for 1 and dismissed Sunil Ambris for the third time in the series. Spin soon came on from both ends and Mehidy Hasan Miraz got one to straighten from around the wicket that caught Kyle Mayers on the back foot for 11. Captain Jason Mohammed and Bonners saw through a boundary-less phase of 15 overs and a wicketless first spell from Shakib, but both batsmen fell in successive overs off Saifuddin, who returned to the XI and finished with 3 for 51. Powell was promoted to No. 6 but the asking rate was already over eight an over. He started with a six off his third ball and scored runs with much more freedom compared to the others yet again, only to delay the inevitable.

Batting first for the first time this series, Iqbal's 64 and Shakib's 51 set the stage for Rahim and Mahmudullah to launch an attack at the end to collect 100 runs off the last ten overs and post their highest total at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

West Indies' inexperienced attack couldn't sustain the accuracy they showed at the start. Mahmudullah collected boundaries in the slog overs even as Alzarri Joseph kept things tight as the hosts targeted the inexperienced bowlers - Mahmudullah stayed unbeaten on 64 off 43 that had three fours and as many sixes, the big hits coming off debutant Keon Harding and Raymon Reifer. Harding's none for 88 were the most expensive figures by a West Indies bowler on debut, overtaking Oshane Thomas' 1 for 83 against India in 2018, including the last over of the innings which leaked 22 runs with two sixes and a no ball.

The real push in the Bangladesh innings came once Rahim joined Shakib after 28 overs. With two consecutive fours, one a reverse sweep and the other a conventional one off left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, in his first ten balls, Rahim made it clear his plan was to accelerate. While Shakib played as many as 41 dots in his 81-ball stay, Rahim moved around in the crease for regular strike rotation and powered them past 250 when he muscled Reifer for two sixes on the leg side and launched Joseph over the covers for a four in between.

Bangladesh were 252 with 22 balls left when Rahim was caught at cover. Mahmudullah finished the 47th over with two well-placed fours before Joseph and Reifer conceded only 13 runs off the next two overs, leaving Harding with the big task of bowling the last over on his international debut. Mahmudullah started it with a six over the covers for his 22nd ODI fifty, Soumya Sarkar was run-out two balls later before Saifuddin struck a four and Mahmudullah finished the innings with a six over long-on. That was not the end, though, as replays showed Harding had overstepped, and Mahmudullah collected two more runs to take the last-over tally to 22.

West Indies had bowled much better earlier after opting to field. Joseph trapped Liton Das lbw with an in-ducker for a duck and first-change Mayers did the same for Najmul Hossain Shanto. Shakib and Iqbal played out a long boundary-less phase of 15 overs against the precision of Hosein and Reifer, who bowled stump to stump and just outside off in the absence of much movement on offer.

Shakib broke the shackles with a late cut for four to third man and Iqbal followed it with a spectacular six over the covers against Jason in the next over. Joseph briefly gave West Indies a chance of putting the hosts on the back foot when he had Iqbal caught at midwicket with a short-ball plan but the attacking mindset Rahim brought didn't give the visitors a chance.

West Indies will also rue the seven wides Harding sent down and the return catch Mayers put down off the first ball Shakib faced in the ninth over of the innings, right after Shanto's wicket, although it was a touch chance in the bowler's follow through.

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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