Bangladesh banked on a string of partnerships and two fine knocks by Shamsur Rahman and Naeem Islam, as they swept the ODI series 3-0 after chasing 309 in the final over in Fatullah. The four-wicket win matched the 2010 clean sweep at home, which New Zealand lost 4-0. This was also Bangladesh's second successful chase of a target of 300 or above in ODIs.
The home side took full advantage of the new ODI rules that allow only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle during the non Powerplay overs, continually chipping the ball over the infield, and making sure they used the shorter, straight boundaries. New Zealand's 307 for 5 was the highest score at this ground at the innings break, but it wasn't enough in the end. Ross Taylor shored up an inexperienced batting line-up with his eighth hundred, but his efforts went in vain.
Mahmudullah and Nasir added 35 for the sixth wicket before Mahmudullah was given out caught behind in the 48th over, although he wasn't fully convinced and neither were the replays conclusive. A few dot balls afterwards added to the tension among the near-capacity crowd but Nasir released the pressure with a thump over midwicket at the end of the 48th over, bringing down the chase to a run-a-ball.
Nasir kept his nerve, just as he did last year in the deciding fifth ODI against West Indies in which he also guided Bangladesh to a close win. Sohag Gazi completed the win with an upper-cut boundary off the second ball of the last over.
Shamsur Rahman missed out on his maiden century, but his contribution, particularly in the absence of the ill Tamim Iqbal, was valuable. He started off briskly with Ziaur Rahman, as the new opening pair added 50 in the seventh over. Ziaur acted as a pinch-hitter, hammering two sixes and two fours in his 22 before getting out in the eighth over.
But that didn't stop Shamsur from going after the bowlers, hammering Mitchell McClenaghan for two sixes in one over. He and Mominul Haque added another quick 65 runs in 11 overs to maintain the pace of the chase. Mominul, however, fell to a soft dismissal to Anton Devcich, for 32 off 33.
The captain Mushfiqur Rahim however failed to contribute, pulling to Taylor at square-leg for 2. But Naeem made sure there was no collapse as he and Shamsur added 75, at more than five runs an over. Naeem matched Shamsur with his timing, particularly through the off side as reached his fifty off 53 balls. When Shamsur fell in the 35th over, Naeem managed to put together another crucial half-century stand with Nasir Hossain. New Zealand had an opening when Naeem was run out in the 43rd over for 63 off 74 balls, but Nasir and Mahmudullah brought the equation back in Bangladesh's favour.
Earlier it was Taylor's hundred that gave New Zealand much-needed impetus, mainly in the last ten overs. After he had added 130 runs for the fourth wicket with Colin Munro, he made sure he took full advantage of Bangladesh's pace bowling in the slog overs, one of their biggest weaknesses. In the last five overs, Bangladesh conceded 73 runs, after they added just 25 between the 40th and 45th over.
Taylor blasted three sixes and nine fours in his 93-ball unbeaten 107, his second hundred against Bangladesh and his second this year. It was an innings that befitted the only experienced batsman in the line-up, helping the team recover from 101 for 3. Secondly, he let Munro dominate much of their partnership and only cut loose in the end overs. He was severe on anything that was bowled on the stumps, playing his favoured slog-sweep.
Munro forced Mushfiqur to think hard while setting fields. He mixed conventional shots with reverse hits, one of which was a pulled six off Abdur Razzak. Playing his first match on tour, but he showed little signs of difficulty to adjust, as the others in his line-up have shown. He cracked two sixes and seven fours in his 77-ball 85, the sort of innings that one could have been expected from Brendon McCullum, who had left the country to treat his sore back.
The openers Devcich and Tom Latham put on 66 in 13.2 overs before the former fell to a poor shot. Devcich survived a chance in the sixth over when he inside-edged a Sohag Gazi delivery past Mushfiqur. The wicketkeeper made amends when he held on to the edge from Latham, who scored 43.
Bangladesh's bowling was ordinary at times, particularly Sohag Gazi, who was struck for three sixes in a row by Taylor in his last over, and Mashrafe, who conceded 73 off his eight overs.
Despite that, there has been a marked difference in Bangladesh's confidence and body language over the last four weeks. The batsmen have stood up to the challenge of setting up totals and now they have successfully chased a 300-plus total. This win alone should give them more reason to think of themselves as genuine match-winners in one-day cricket.