Reza bowls Bangladesh to series win
A five-wicket haul by the right-arm medium pacer Farhad Reza, backed by restrictive spells by the left-arm spinners, shot out Ireland for 162 as Bangladesh claimed an 84-run victory in the second one-dayer at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium and sealed the series 2-0 with one left to play. Set a target of 247, Andre Botha and Alex Cusack stabilised the chase with a half-century stand before a sudden burst of wickets by Reza saw Ireland crashing from 144 for 5 to 147 for 9. It was a complete all-round performance by the home side, fashioned by half-centuries by Shahriar Nafees and Aftab Ahmed before the bowlers sent Ireland crashing.
Ireland's openers Reinhardt Strydom and William Porterfield began steadily, adding 42 before Reza and the left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak struck with three quick wickets. After Razzak trapped Strydom in front, Reza sent back Eoin Morgan and Porterfield - both caught while trying to clear the infield on the offside - off successive deliveries. A stand of 36 by the O'Brien brothers - Kevin and Niall - lifted the visitors before the pair succumbed to the left-arm spin of Shakib Al Hasan.
Ireland had lost half their side for 92, but Cusack and Botha presided over their side's best passage of play, adding 52 in just over ten overs. Botha set the pace with a quick 34 off 36 balls before spooning a full toss back to Reza. Trent Johnston fell soon after, bowled by Razzak, before Cusack fell in the next over, trapped in front by Reza. Bangladesh moved in for the kill as Reza picked up his first five-wicket haul in ODIs, bowling Greg Thompson. Razzak claimed the final wicket of Dave Langford-Smith to finish with figures of 3 for 27 to complement Reza's demolition job.
A significant factor in Bangladesh's thumping victory was the fact that the batsmen managed to bat out 50 overs, something they have struggled to do recently. Nafees and Aftab set the tone with half-centuries before a late-innings surge by Mashrafe Mortaza propelled the score close to the 250-mark.
The openers, Tamim Iqbal and Nafees, dropped anchor with a 94-run stand and ensured against early setbacks. Tamim, a naturally aggressive player, played out 85 balls for his 46 and looked set for a half-century: he took on Dave Langford-Smith in the 26th over and launched him over the deep midwicket boundary, but the bowler had the last laugh the next ball as Tamim holed out to Kevin. Ireland had waited a long time for their first breakthrough, and the hard work continued as Nafees and Aftab added 41 for the second wicket.
Aftab made up for his failure in the first ODI with a half-century, coming off 51 balls, which included a six off Botha over midwicket. He then launched legspinner Thompson for another six over long-on before falling to a mis-timed pull to Johnston at square leg. His 61 came off 57 balls and set the platform for a sizeable score.
Nafees followed up his half-century from the first game with another, this time compiling a patient 60 off 92 balls before he was run-out, attempting a risky second run. Aftab and Mohammad Ashraful propped the innings with the highest partnership of the match, 64, for the third wicket, before Ireland clawed back with quick wickets.
Langford-Smith accounted for Reza and Shakib in quick succession to set Bangladesh back at 211 for 5, before Ashraful fell for a run-a-ball 38 to Botha with the score at 223. Mortaza's cameo of 26 from 15 balls, which included three fours and a six, pushed his side close to the 250-mark. Langford-Smith, who finished with 3 for 43, was Ireland's most successful bowler.
The third one-dayer on Saturday, also in Mirpur, gives Ashraful the ideal opportunity to claim a series sweep and bring more smiles to his supporters who've seen nothing but defeat in all forms of the game in the last few months.