I chose this game because I could not get leave from work for the first ODI, and probably will be out of town for the third. There was also the auspicious factor - the only other time in recent years that I've seen Bangladesh win an international fixture in Mirpur live from the stands was in October. And because a friend managed to get tickets for this one.
Bangladesh, through and through.
Sohag Gazi played a handy knock with the bat to see Bangladesh through a patchy period, and then came back to bowl with the new ball and put in five very tight overs while also dismissing Anton Devcich. Gazi also kept it tidy during the batting Powerplay, and got rid of Ross Taylor, the only man who could have snatched it away, and James Neesham.
There was really not much left to wish for, but with 14 sixes hit in the day, I wish one had landed somewhere near me.
Tamim v Southee, the ace aggressors in respective sides. After bowling a sharp opening over, Southee was hit for his first boundary by Tamim - a delightful drive through cover. An over later, Southee snorted one past Tamim's nose, who responded by charging out and whacking one right over his head out of the park.
Devcich's desperate dive in the closing overs of the Bangladesh innings and Mushfiqur Rahim's stunner of a catch to send back Corey Anderson made it into my notes for the wow moment, but the real moment came when Mashrafe Mortaza knocked out Southee. Innings. Match. Series. The 25,000-plus people in the stadium exploded in ecstasy; high-fives, hugs, screams in already-sore throats, and the flying flags... it was unreal.
Grant Elliot fielded close to our stand early during the Bangladesh innings, and rather strangely, took sips out of a water bottle behind the boundary ropes thrice in the same over. After every delivery, he would come and take a sip, drop the bottle and go to field, only to come back the next delivery. The crowd expressed concerns over his bladder situation. Rubel Hossain and Abdur Razzak, who also patrolled the zone, got loud cheers.
Kyle Mills was brought back to bowl the first over of the batting Powerplay. Facing him was Naeem Islam, also known as "Chokka" to fans, because he's the only batsman in domestic cricket to hit six sixes in an over. Naeem stepped out to a fuller ball and nonchalantly hit it over long-on for a six. Whaddashot!
With the two most destructive New Zealand batsmen at the crease - Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor - Mushfiqur handed the ball to Mominul Haque, despite having more experienced options in Nasir Hossain and Naeem. Mominul's seemingly innocuous offies not only tied the batsmen down - he went for just four runs in his first three overs - but also trapped McCullum in front. He returned after the Powerplay to dismiss Nathan McCullum.
The stands are always packed for limited-over games in Mirpur, but there was a little extra spirit in this game. It was loud and throbbing throughout. Rapid Mexican waves circled the gallery, coordinated claps and beats echoed frequently, and every Bangladesh boundary and New Zealand wicket was greeted with thunderous roars. Even the 12th men circling the ropes with towels and bottles of Gatorade were cheered on. It was great to run into two members of the pulsating cricket forum banglacricket.com, Lamisa and Zeeshan, in the same gallery as us.
The sound system was lousy and we couldn't hear much of what the DJ was playing, so the non-cricket entertainment was not great. However, an excited electronic scoreboard operator typing "Bangladesh win by 40 wickets" was pretty hilarious at the end.
With too many restrictions as of what could be brought inside the stadium, we could only take our flags to the ground, but the four of us who went together (a shout-out to Dip, Ananda and Samin) painted our faces red and green. The paint work was so impressive that some spectators even had their photos taken with us.
"Kiwis, do you remember you were Banglawashed in 2010?. (PS) I love you Rita"
This was a dream match. To watch our side put post a competitive score, which was backed up by the bowlers with a zingy, disciplined effort to ensure a clinical series win was nothing short of overwhelming. While New Zealand fought hard, Bangladesh were never in real threat of losing the game. The atmosphere was buzzing, the cricket was splendid, and there were no interruptions or lapses. As I rode my bicycle out of Mirpur into the relatively empty Dhaka streets after the match, I knew the warm feeling of victory inside me was one I'd never forget.
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