Bangladesh enhance their ODI credentials with dramatic Chelmsford win

The team will be pleased to see their young batters taking leading roles and the tail finally generating some runs

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Najmul Hossain Shanto celebrates his hundred in Towhid Hridoy's company, Ireland vs Bangladesh, 2nd ODI, Chelmsford, May 12, 2023

Najmul Hossain Shanto celebrates his hundred in Towhid Hridoy's company  •  Andrew Miller/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Bangladesh's three-wicket win against Ireland on Friday was only their sixth successful 300-plus chase in ODIs. The elements that stood out in this pursuit were the younger batters taking lead roles, the long tail that finally generated some runs, and the timing of it all. In a World Cup year when they are trying to enter the tournament with confidence and enhance their credentials as an ODI outfit, Chelmsford's show was the ideal batting performance.
Najmul Hossain Shanto, whose position in ODIs was dicey not so long ago, cracked his maiden century in the format. Shanto's acceleration under pressure, when Bangladesh had lost two early wickets in a 320-chase, was heartening for the Bangladesh fans. He had been subject to a lot of trolling in the last two years but ever since the T20 World Cup in November 2022, he has grown as a batter.
After the second ODI, Shanto, however, spoke highly of Towhid Hridoy who supported him with a quickfire 68. Hridoy is more of a newcomer than Shanto, having made his debut in March this year, and quickly grabbed a middle-order spot that's so hotly contested between him and senior batters like Mahmudullah and Afif Hossain.
Shanto and Hridoy added 131 runs for the fourth wicket after Shakib Al Hasan got out softly in the 17th over. Shakib and Shanto added 61 quickly but Ireland felt they had a big say in the game when Shakib got out. Hridoy, however, shut down that notion quickly.
Shanto and Hridoy had the best partnership in this season's BPL, including a century and three fifty stands. Shanto finishing as the BPL's highest run-getter played into his growing confidence while this year's BPL was Hridoy's breakout season.
"This win will definitely give us a lot of confidence," Shanto said. "Hridoy's intent helped my batting. He never seemed nervous. Our partnership served the exact purpose. We didn't worry about the outcome. We tried to play our natural cricket. We hope that this type of cricket will do us good in the near future.
"I certainly enjoying batting with him. We had some big partnerships in the BPL. We understand how we bat together. His intent is really good for the team. It puts the opponent under pressure. He doesn't go away from his process regardless of losing three or four wickets. I think this is how we should play. Our mantra is to stick to our own processes and natural game in any situation, without caring much about losing three or four wickets."
Shanto said that he was pleased with his own effort although not being there in the end left him a little disappointed after the game. "I am very happy to get my first ODI hundred. I felt I batted the way I wanted to bat properly. I would have been happier to finish the game.
"I didn't think much about the cold weather. I reacted to the merit of the ball. I didn't worry about the outcome. I tried to bat positively. It was a great wicket but there was some challenge to face the new ball."
Bangladesh's bigger and more complicated challenge was to navigate the chase with four genuine tail-enders. Some may argue that Taijul Islam is still a decent batter, but he has no limited-overs credentials. Shoriful Islam, Hasan Mahmud and Ebadto Hossain are genuine tail-enders, so scoring 320 runs in 45 overs with the top seven seemed a bit of a tight spot for the visitors.
Bangladesh needed another 63 runs when the last recognised pair of Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehidy Hasan Miraz got together in the 37th over. Mehidy got out when they needed 34 runs in the last 5.2 overs. But Mushfiqur got those runs with surprising help from Taijul and Shoriful.
Shanto said that Bangladesh proved that they can chase with seven specialist batters but they needed a bit of luck with the TV umpire unable to find a good enough angle to judge Mushfiqur's run-out, and when Mark Adair bowled a no-ball in the last over.
"It doesn't matter whether we have seven or eight batters. We have to bat with responsibility and intent. I didn't think we had fewer batters in the line-up. We chased 320 successfully. We could chase 350 successfully.
"We always believed we could win, seeing the wicket and conditions. We knew we could chase this target. We spoke about it in the dressing room. We needed the luck, so we got it through the no-ball and that run out."
Shanto said that Bangladesh will look to improve in the last ODI on Sunday, but he felt the bowlers did a good job for 39 out of the 45 overs. He also mentioned that they always discussed when to bring Mehidy into the bowling attack, before figuring out that Ireland probably could be countered with the offspinner bowling from a particular end.
"I don't think we bowled badly. The coach (Chandika Hathurusingha) mentioned that we gave six or seven big overs out of the 45 overs. Otherwise, we bowled well for 39 overs. The one who got the century for them, batted really well. I think there's no reason to blame anyone. There's always room for improvement, but the way the bowlers did here, it will help us in the future.
"We were all discussing, including the captain, about when to bring Miraz into the attack. But there was more trust on Taijul bhai. Then we realised that it was harder to hit a right-hander from one end, because it was big. They were playing well against left-arm spin. We believe in him. He bowled well. He is very helpful. We want a situation where anyone can bowl in any situation."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84