'We deserved to win this ODI series' - Mushfiqur
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has said his team earned the 3-2 ODI series victory over West Indies through skill and by building up towards peak form over the past four weeks. The coming together of all three departments in the crucial final game of the series, albeit with some major scares along the way, he said, was what made the difference for Bangladesh.
"We deserved to win this ODI series, judging by our performance since the Tests and our cricket skills," Mushfiqur said after the game. "We would have at least drawn that first Test had we not made some mistakes. We didn't bat and field well in the third and fourth [ODIs], though we bowled very well. Today our only plan was to get it right in all three departments.
"This is what gave us the wins in the first two games of the ODI series. In this final game, we told everyone that we have to make sure we give 100% effort."
Bangladesh's nerves could have frayed at two crucial points in the game, but they came out on top on both occasions. First, when Kieron Pollard began his assault, hammering eight sixes in an innings that was threatening to take the series away from the home side. As the big hits piled up at the feet of a sell-out crowd, Mushfiqur's bowling choices were compromised. He tossed the ball to the innocuous Mominul Haque, who bowls part-time left-arm spin. Sensing an opportunity to get one more out of the ground, Pollard went for a big swish after clearing the front foot, but the ball had snuck below his bat and onto the stumps.
Mushfiqur joked that he would like credit for that wicket but praised the maturity shown by Mominul: "Mominul is a fighting cricketer. That is how he is, one of my favourite young players. He takes up the challenge so when I gave him the bowling, I told him to just do what you can, don't worry about the outcome."
The other crucial juncture was when the 91-run fourth wicket stand between Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah ended with the latter getting bowled by Sunil Narine in the 21st over, with Bangladesh still needing 97 runs to win. They had two more batsmen in the shed, Nasir Hossain and Mominul, and these two came together when Mushfiqur was also dismissed by the same bowler not long after. The two youngsters, Nasir playing the role of the senior batsmen for once, showed the guts required in these tight situations and on a 53-run fifth wicket stand that took Bangladesh almost to the victory.
"When I was batting with [Mahmudullah] Riyad bhai, I wanted to put up a partnership," Mushfiqur said. "After I got out, another partnership was a must and credit goes to Nasir and Mominul. They handled the pressure situation very well, showed their maturity in such a game. Even Sohag Gazi's 15 runs were vital in the circumstances."
The captain was happy with Shafiul Islam, who was a last-minute replacement for the injured Mashrafe Mortaza and the only pace bowler in the attack. He took 3 for 31 - his second-best bowling performance in terms of wickets taken and his most economical spell of bowling against a major team; he has been known to leak runs in the past.
"I think 70% of [credit for] the win goes to him," Mushfiqur said. "He bowled so well in such a final match, and it is not easy to bowl against Gayle, Pollard and Samuels. He hasn't played for a long time [due to injury]. We kept telling him to be ready for an opportunity. He can use the inswinger with the new ball, so we were sure he could do the job."
Mushfiqur pointed out that the win had come against an in-form team that has just won the World Twenty20, and that Bangladesh were without their linchpin, Shakib Al Hasan. That, he said, made it a superior performance to the two previous series wins against teams ranked higher than Bangladesh. "I would put this above the West Indies whitewash [in 2009, against a second-string side] and the 4-0 win over New Zealand [in 2010]. This is a T20 champion side and all their top players were here.
"We also missed a big performer in this series, so it became a huge challenge. I would say that this is the biggest win for us."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent