You must have heard of it ‘n’ number of times, about the importance of having runs on the board in a final match, and when Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza opted to bat in the series decider on Saturday (July 28), it showed the confidence he had in his batsmen. The in-form Tamim Iqbal didn’t disappoint his skipper and led the way with a stellar ton with Mahmudullah finishing it well for the tourists with a superbly paced 67* to power the team to 301. The hosts had been without a series win since their last 10 bilaterals and were constantly being questioned from every possible corner. And it showed – through Evin Lewis’s scratchiness at the top, the over-dependence on Chris Gayle, the pressure on Shimron Hetmyer to produce another superlative knock, the absence of Andre Russell, and eventually they went down despite Rovman Powell decorating the cow corner with a flurry of sixes and keeping them in the hunt for longer than they actually had fancied.
Bangladesh were hurting after that shambolic Test series loss earlier on the tour, perhaps even more after their embarrassing inability to finish a game that was truly theirs. And on Saturday, battling through nervous dropped chances and counter-attacks launched by Gayle and Rovman, they famously won the series 2-1 – their first ODI series win outside Asia since 2009.
Chasing 302, Lewis’s stay at the crease was painstaking but that didn’t deter the big-hitting Jamaican – Gayle from launching big hits at will while he followed his most popular yet unreal template of biding his time and hammering the big hits when the need be, or when the mood be. It was against Mehidy Hasan in the sixth over that Gayle opened up for the first time, hitting the offie for a six and a four, and then another four in his next over. It was a shame though when a four that took the Windies’ score to 44, brought up their highest opening stand of the series. Yes, you read that right, their previous best opening stand from the past two ODIs was a meagre 29.
Soon after though, Lewis fell. But Gayle continued and he brought up his 49th fifty. He extended his love for (and to) the offspinners when he hit Mahmudullah for two back-to-back sixes. But once he fell for his 73, in the 22nd over, the hosts felt the pinch again, if not sting.
Windies kept up their fight through a 67-run stand between Shai Hope and Hetmyer but two wickets in three overs put them behind the nine-ball again. Hope was holding one end up as Ricardo, err… Rovman Powell emerged onto the scene. He could see only one area though – the gap between long on and deep midwicket, but that worked as he milked Mustafizur Rahman with predictable yet infallible precision. Three sixes off the left-arm pacer and a few more fours here and there, Powell raised his fifty off just 27 balls. As expected, those meaty blows sent panic waves in the Bangladesh camp as the senior players quickly huddled themselves in a conference on the field.
With 40 needed off the last 18, Mustafizur and Rubel Hossain delivered their two best overs on the day, to concede just 12 runs, giving the left-armer 28 to play with in the final over. Rovman opened the last over with a six but that was it as the hosts failed to connect further before going down by 18 runs and failing to win yet another bilateral series.
Earlier in the day, Tamim stretched his superlative form into the final ODI by scoring a fine hundred, his second in the series and 11th overall. In the process, the prolific southpaw registered the record for most runs by any batsman in a three-match ODI series in the Caribbean. Shakib Al Hasan got a start but threw his wicket away while trying to end his boundary-drought. The good start wasn’t allowed to fizzle out ordinarily though as skipper Mortaza while promoting himself to No. 6, smashed an attractive cameo (36 off 25) before Mahmudullah ensured a blockbuster finish with his unbeaten 67 that saw the team go past the 300-run mark. In the end, the collective contribution of Sabbir Rahman and Mosaddek Hossain (23 off 14) made a huge difference too as Bangladesh sealed their first series win outside Bangladesh since 2009.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 301/6 in 50 overs (Tamim Iqbal 103, Mahmudullah 67*; Ashley Nurse 2-53, Jason Holder 2-55) beat Windies 283/6 in 50 overs (Rovman Powell 74*, Chris Gayle 73; Mashrafe Mortaza 2-63) by 18 runs.
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