After their famous 4-0 win against the same opposition at home in 2010, another clean sweep beckoned for Bangladesh after they wrapped up the second ODI by 40 runs. Bangladesh defended 247 and their decision to bat first was vindicated despite concerns over the spinners' effectiveness with a dew-laden ball.
Bangladesh made the two new balls count. Mashrafe Mortaza, who took three wickets, bowled two good spells to make sure New Zealand's required run-rate never went down. Offspinner Sohag Gazi took the other new ball, and like Mashrafe, tied down the batsmen at first before picking up three wickets. Mominul Haque was Mushfiqur Rahim's golden arm, removing the McCullum brothers.
When they began their chase of 248 run, Hamish Rutherford was the first to go, chopping a Mashrafe delivery onto his stumps for 1, repeating his score from the first match. Anton Devcich and Grant Elliott were removed off successive deliveries a little while later, the former popping a catch back to Gazi and the latter getting stuck on the crease to Abdur Razzak, and falling leg-before.
As the chase began to gather pace, the visitors pinned their hopes on the captain Brendon McCullum to make his first significant score on this tour. It remained that way, as he fell just when his partnership with Ross Taylor was starting to worry Bangladesh.
After the second drinks break, McCullum went back to a Mominul delivery that didn't turn much, missed it and was given out leg-before. In the next over, Tom Latham was run out thanks to Rubel Hossain's throw after Taylor sent him back after completing the first run. James Neesham was caught off a short ball from Gazi, caught by a diving Naeem Islam at square leg.
Gazi picked up the crucial wicket of Taylor just after he had smashed a six at the end of the batting Powerplay. That wicket - the eighth falling with the score on 158 - spelled the end of New Zealand's resistance in this series, as Bangladesh waited for the inevitable. Kyle Mills and Nathan McCullum held things up for a while before Nathan McCullum holed out at long-on in the 46th over. The end came when Tim Southee missed Mashrafe's straight ball in the 47th over.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, were off to a better start with the bat, but none of their batsmen pushed on for a big score. The New Zealand bowlers were accurate and controlled their bowling variations. The Bangladesh batsmen had to be patient, but were often frustrated as they could not get on top of the medium-pacers. Brendon McCullum set planned fields, packing the off side and to his credit, he was backed by the bowlers and the fielders.
Corey Anderson and Neesham both took four wickets, after Southee and Kyle Mills restricted the Bangladesh openers with tight spells with the two new balls. Their tidiness in the first 35 overs paid off when Bangladesh lost three quick wickets after the 36th over, at the start of the batting Powerplay, Bangladesh's scourge. It set them back for the last nine overs during which they added only 63 runs and lost four wickets.
Mushfiqur, Naeem and Nasir Hossain fell in the space of eleven balls, which took them from 169 for 3 to 173 for 6. All three dismissals were soft and the shots played, particularly that of Mushfiqur and Naeem, were unnecessary.
The top and middle-order batsmen threw away good starts. The openers, Tamim Iqbal and the debutant Shamsur Rahman began steadily with a stand of 63. Tamim was the enforcer, but the debutant Shamsur was relatively sedate during his 25. Tamim drove stylishly through the covers and his only six, down the ground off Southee in the ninth over, was his best shot.
Mominul struck five boundaries, one of them straight down the ground and another flicked through midwicket. But he fell to a trap, pulling a slower ball from Anderson to Nathan McCullum at deep midwicket.
Soon after, Tamim got stuck in the forties for 18 balls, before reaching his 25th ODI fifty off 75 balls. He was finally dismissed by inside edging Anderson's slower ball onto his stumps, after missing on several wild swishes. As the sun set below Mirpur's horizon, the home crowd looked disappointed that the batsmen failed to capitalise, but the mood changed as the evening wore on.
Batting is an area that still needs improvement, but with an inspired bowling performance such as this, Mushfiqur need not give himself and the rest of the batsmen the hair-dryer. With cricket being one of the unifying factors in the country, celebrations are expected everywhere.