Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
New Zealand 275 for 5 (Latham 110*, Conway 72, Mahedi 2-42) beat Bangladesh 271 for 6 (Iqbal 78, Mithun 73*, Santner 2-51) by five wickets
Stand-in captain Tom Latham's fifth ODI hundred and Devon Conway's maiden ODI half-century helped New Zealand beat Bangladesh by five wickets at the Hagley Oval and seal the three-match ODI series with a game to spare. Bangladesh put in a much-improved performance, both with bat and ball, but their fielding let them down as New Zealand chased down the target with ten balls to spare.
Earlier, contrasting half-centuries from Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Mithun steered Bangladesh to 271 for 6. Iqbal started cautiously, weathering swing, seam and bounce against the new ball to lay the platform with his 78 off 108 balls. Mithun, batting at No. 5 and coming to the crease in the 31st over, was aggressive right from the start. His unbeaten 73 off 57 balls was instrumental in Bangladesh scoring 88 in the last ten overs.
Martin Guptill started New Zealand's chase briskly, hitting three fours and six, before failing to read Mustafizur Rahman's slower ball and offering the bowler a return catch. Soon after, offspinner Mahedi Hasan bowled Henry Nicholls and Will Young in his successive overs to reduce New Zealand to 53 for 3. However, a gritty 113-run fourth-wicket stand between Latham and Conway took the game away from Bangladesh.
The two put their heads down, soaking the pressure, playing the dots as Bangladesh deployed spin from both ends. Only two boundaries came between overs 11 and 25, both coming from Latham's bat, as the required rate climbed to 6.60.
Bangladesh knew they needed wickets and therefore brought back Mahedi in the 26th over. Latham and Conway also realised they needed to press on. Latham stepped out to Mahedi and aimed for a big hit only to mistime it. Luckily for New Zealand, it landed well short of long-off.
Conway reverse-swept the next ball for four. The following one went down the leg side for five wides. Mahedi, who had conceded only 14 from his six overs until then, ended up leaking 13. The momentum had shifted.
Conway brought up his half-century off 72 deliveries as he and Latham took New Zealand past 150. Their stand was broken when, with 106 required from 99 balls, Conway went for a quick single to mid-off but couldn't beat Iqbal's direct hit.
But after that Bangladesh's fielding nose-dived. Mushfiqur Rahim dropped James Neesham off Taskin Ahmed when the allrounder was on 3. Three balls later, Mithun, at cover, failed to get his fingers underneath Latham's push. The batsman smashed the next ball for four to rub it in. In the next over, Latham offered a straightforward return chance to Mahedi but the ball slipped from his fingers. Latham was on 58 at that point.
Taskin's next over started with four leg-byes, followed by Latham hitting three successive fours. He and Neesham added 76 in 71 balls before Neesham holed out to long-on against Mustafizur. But by then the equation was down to 30 required from 27 balls. Latham pulled Taskin for four to get to his hundred in 101 balls and along with Daryl Mitchell took New Zealand over the line without further hiccups.
Bangladesh's start though was anything but promising as Matt Henry dismissed Liton Das for a duck in the second over of the match. Soumya Sarkar joined Iqbal in the middle but with Trent Boult taking the ball away and Henry bringing it back, the two left-handers found it difficult to score freely. That both Boult and Henry also slipped in an occasional bouncer meant the batsmen couldn't commit on the front foot either.
Eventually, it was Iqbal who broke the shackles. After Bangladesh had crawled to 14 for 1 in seven overs, he struck three fours in one Henry over as the seamer erred on either side of the wicket.
Iqbal had moved to 34 when he drove one back at Kyle Jamieson in the 15th over. The ball went almost parallel to the ground but Jamieson, six feet and eight inches tall, swooped low to his left in his followthrough and grabbed it with both hands. New Zealand thought they had got their man. So did umpire Chris Brown, soft-signalling it out while referring upstairs. But TV umpire Chris Gaffaney deemed that while the catch was clean, Jamieson wasn't in control of his movements when he fell forward and the ball came in contact with the ground. Jamieson, who thought otherwise, threw his hands up when the big screen flashed "Not Out".
Tempers flared further in the next over when Iqbal punched a delivery back to James Neesham. The bowler had a shy at the stumps but ended up pinging Iqbal on the arm as the batsman turned to get back in his crease. Neesham apologised and even checked on him but Iqbal ignored him. Instead, he had an animated conversation with the umpire after being tended to by the physio.
Once the ball became a bit older, Sarkar too opened up, cutting Mitchell Santner for four before launching Mitchell over long-on for a six. He and Iqbal added 81 in 110 balls for the second wicket before Santner got Sarkar stumped for 32. In a pre-meditated attempt to step out, Sarkar showed his cards early, allowing the left-arm spinner to bowl it down the leg side. Sarkar ran past it and had no chance of returning as Latham broke the stumps.
Iqbal brought up his fifty off 84 balls and looked set to dictate terms, hitting Santner for back-to-back fours. Luck too seemed to favour Iqbal as a miscued pull just cleared mid-on and reached the boundary line. However, a moment of brilliance from Neesham saw his back when Rahim dropped one adjacent to the stumps and looked to pinch a single. Iqbal responded but Neesham was quick to the ball in his followthrough and kicked it on to the stumps with his left foot to find Iqbal short.
Rahim and Mithun kept took the side close to 200 before Rahim fell to Santner in the 41st over. New Zealand could have had Mithun in the next over but Guptill, after making a brilliant stop at point, missed the direct hit and Mithun made full use of that reprieve.
Pulling, cutting, scooping and reverse-sweeping on his way, Mithun ensured the scoring rate didn't dip. With a six off a chest-high full toss from Neesham, he brought up his fifty in 42 balls before smashing the following free hit inside-out for four to wide long-off. Mithun got another life when he flicked Boult towards deep-backward square leg but Mitchell failed to hold on to a low catch.
Bangladesh though paid back those fielding lapses with interest.
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