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Bangladesh's victory in the final ODI was a sum of having come out on top in six crucial situations
December 9, 2012
Bangladesh had to win six mini-battles in the deciding game against West Indies. These small victories added up to deliver a special night for Abdur Razzak and captain Mushfiqur Rahim. These moments also made a hero out of Nasir Hossain, who wanted to be a hero since the time he was having lunch with Saqlain Mushtaq, the Bangladesh bowling consultant. Above all these individual triumphs lies a team performance that is perhaps Bangladesh's finest to date because it was also their hardest-fought.
The 3-2 win in the ODI series has come against a side whose captain had stated, before the series, his intention to win 5-0. When West Indies manager, and former captain, Richie Richardson said matter-of-factly that they would like to win everything in Bangladesh, it didn't sound unrealistic. West Indies' last assignment prior to the tour was the World Twenty20 which they had won in grand style, and never has a reigning champion side come to Bangladesh and not won something.
West Indies won the Test series 2-0, and as the ODI series neared Bangladesh hardly featured when the talk was about winning. What a 5-0 win would mean for the West Indies' ODI rankings was everyone's concern. The absence of Shakib Al Hasan was seen as the major blow that the home team could never recover from, so much so that ideas of 400-plus scores were also thrown around.
Instead, Bangladesh fought, and fought till the very end. Even the winning runs had to be hit twice, as Elias Sunny forgot to complete the run when Nasir had first struck the ball into the gap. The batsman had to redo the winning shot the next ball, carving the ball over point, which was Bangladesh's sixth comeback. The five earlier ones made sure it got to this stage.
The first obstacle was Chris Gayle. Despite the lack of runs this series, he remained a threat until he chopped the ball to Nasir at point, who took a low catch in the eighth over. The wicket came about in the only way Bangladesh could have dismissed Gayle, by building pressure through dot balls; his ODI series with an aggregate that is his third-lowest in a five-match series.
From 17 for 3, West Indies recovered significantly. Kieron Pollard settled into the crease by hitting sixes and the spinners strayed. Mominul Haque finally slipped one through Pollard, giving Bangladesh their second win of the afternoon.
That dismissal, however, was not going to end Bangladesh's woes. But they denied West Indies a second chance, as Mahmudullah and Shafiul Islam picked up two wickets each, helping restrict the opposition to 217.
Bangladesh winning battles with their bowling was not unexpected, given their current form. The turnaround they forced after Pollard had decimated the spinners was worth watching. They had to use new angles and a lot of variations to keep the West Indies tail from wagging.
When it came to batting, Bangladesh suffered their second top-order collapse in as many games. Their mindset seemed muddled, and it was evident in their footwork. Tamim Iqbal got away with a couple of boundaries before he was cleaned up by Kemar Roach. Roach also beat Anamul Haque and Jahurul Islam with pace. Recovery from these early blows would be Bangladesh's biggest struggle of the series.
Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah decided to counter-attack, like Pollard had, and bring up the run-rate to a point from which picking up wickets in a clutter was the only way out for West Indies. The pair added 91 runs at 7.18 per over, Bangladesh using the advantage of having an in-form Mahmudullah promoted to No. 5 for only the second time in his career.
Both the captain and vice-captain, however, fell within 20 balls of each other, leaving three youngsters the task of seeing Bangladesh home. Nasir, Mominul and Sohag Gazi then won Bangladesh yet another mini-battle, adding 53 for the sixth wicket and a further 28 for the seventh to take them just one hit away from victory.
In a way, this was Bangladesh's third final of 2012, after the Asia Cup final and the final day of the Dhaka Test. Having lost the previous two, questions were raised throughout the year about their ability to go all the way. The win against West Indies is a reward for the battles they fought, the small wins, even the two defeats. It is for now their most cherished trophy.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondentFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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