New Zealand 128 for 5 (Nicholls 36*, Blundell 30*, Saifuddin 2-28) beat Bangladesh 76 (Mushfiqur 20*, Ajaz 4-16, McConchie 3-15) by 52 runs
Ajaz Patel picked up 4 for 16, and Cole McConchie chipped in with 3 for 15, as New Zealand bundled out Bangladesh for 76 to register a thumping 52-run win in the third T20I in Mirpur. With that, they also kept the five-match series alive.
After winning the toss, Tom Latham opted to bat on a pitch where his side was skittled out for 60 in the first T20I. On Sunday, they were struggling again, at 62 for 5 in 11 overs and 88 for 5 in 16, before Henry Nicholls and Tom Blundell took 40 from the last four to lift them to 128.
At the toss, Mahmudullah had said he expected his bowlers to restrict New Zealand to 130-140. By that estimate, Bangladesh must have fancied their chances. But their batters looked in a hurry against the New Zealand spinners and kept losing their wickets.
Ajaz's four strikes left Bangladesh reeling on 44 for 6 at the halfway mark. While Mushfiqur Rahim tried to occupy one end, McConchie sent back Nurul Hasan and Mohammad Saifuddin from the other to all but seal the game for his side. Eventually, Bangladesh were bowled out in 19.4 overs.
There was no six hit in the whole game, the longest such T20I between two Full Member nations.
Bangladesh seamers spring in a surprise
Playing his first game of the series, Finn Allen showed New Zealand how to play spin on these pitches. Coming down the track, he smashed the third ball of the day back past bowler Mahedi Hasan. Two balls later, he swept him over square leg. In the next over, he hit Nasum Ahmed through covers for his third four in seven balls.
Mahmudullah realised spin wasn't proving effective and turned to Mustafizur Rahman in the third over. The seamer struck with his very first ball as Allen chipped an innocuous delivery to mid-on.
After Mustafizur's wicket-maiden over, Mahmudullah turned to Shakib Al Hasan but Will Young took him for two fours in the over. It started looking like the New Zealand batters had got used to the conditions as they finished the powerplay at 40 for 1. But they were in for a surprise. In the seventh over, Saifuddin trapped Young and Colin de Grandhomme lbw with his offcutters to make it 46 for 3.
Mahmudullah, Mahedi join the party
Rachin Ravindra seemed to have decided he would play the Bangladesh spinners predominantly from the back foot. Using that strategy, he hit two cut shots for fours when the ball wasn't that short but ended up playing too many dot balls. When Mahmudullah castled him in the tenth over of the innings, Ravindra had consumed 20 balls for as many runs.
Latham, who after scoring an unbeaten 65 from No. 3 in the last game, demoted himself to No. 5 to keep the left-right combination going. But he managed only 5 here before he chipped a return catch to Mahedi.
Nicholls, Blundell lift New Zealand
From over 11 till 16, New Zealand didn't manage a single boundary, with Nicholls and Blundell mostly dealing in ones. The important thing, though, from New Zealand's perspective was they didn't lose any wicket in this period, which allowed them to attack in the last four overs.
It started on the last ball of the 17th over when Blundell hit a low full toss straight past Saifuddin. In the next over, Nicholls belted two fours off Mustafizur to take New Zealand past 100. Two more fours, and 11 runs in all, came from the final over as the unbroken 66-run stand, off 55 balls, between the two dragged New Zealand to a respectable total.
Ajaz and Co run amok
Bangladesh started their chase positively with Mohammad Naim hitting two successive fours in the first over, bowled by Jacob Duffy. An over later, Liton Das swept McConchie over backward square leg for back-to-back fours. But the offspinner had the last laugh as he trapped Liton lbw in the same over when the batter attempted yet another aerial sweep.
Mahedi was promoted to No. 3 but Ajaz had him caught at short midwicket for 1 before jolting Bangladesh further by dismissing Shakib for a duck. The allrounder came out with an intent to attack, went down the ground to Ajaz but holed out to long-on. Naim, who was watching all this from the other end, eventually played on Ravindra in the seventh over.
Bangladesh were 32 for 4 but still had Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah in the middle. In the tenth over, Latham once again turned to his strike bowler, Ajaz and he didn't disappoint. With the second ball of the over, he had Mahmdullah caught at extra cover and on the next, yorked Afif Hossain to give New Zealand a firm grip on the match.
Nurul survived a run-out call when third umpire gave the decision in his favour even though it looked like his bat was on the line when Ravindra broke the stumps. He didn't last long however; trying to hit out against McConchie, he skied one towards long-on where Blundell sprinted to his left and put in the dive to take the catch inches off the ground. Bangladesh's fight finished with that, and Mahmudullah, who had earlier became the first Bangladesh cricketer to play 100 T20Is, ended on the losing side.