A harrying spell of pace bowling from Hamish Bennett, playing his first ODI since January 2014, and fifties from James Neesham and Tom Latham led New Zealand’s drubbing over Bangladesh in the third game of the tri-series, in Clontarf, the venue’s first game between two Full Member nations.
New Zealand utilised conditions they are well accustomed to, and executed substantially better than Bangladesh to stay unbeaten in the tri-series. Chasing 258, Latham had set up New Zealand’s chase with a steady half-century, but it was an 80-run, fifth-wicket partnership between Neesham and Neil Broom that turned the game decidedly.
Bangladesh continue their elusive chase for a win over New Zealand away from home, or at a neutral venue. They had clawed their way back into the game, after Ross Taylor’s wicket in the 31st over had left New Zealand at 147 for 4. Broom laid down anchor and Neesham counter-attacked, their natural batting tendencies.
At no point in the innings did the asking rate creep over 6.15: their toughest equation was 91 off 89 balls with six wickets in hand. Such was New Zealand’s control over the chase. With Neesham in fine hitting form – he hit a boundary in each over between overs 34 and 39 – Broom accumulated 48 off 64 before he missed a full, straight ball. But by then, New Zealand were cruising.
The pitch, a comparatively barren surface compared to the tournament opener, may have lost some of the zing of the morning, gradually easing out for batting as the day progressed. Spin, Bangladesh’s most-productive asset, didn’t perform. Mashrafe Mortaza leaked runs. Bangladesh’s bowling attack was cut to just two weapons, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain. Both bowlers, incisive and accurate, took two wickets apiece, but New Zealand had effectively negated Bangladesh’s penetration.
The day began in ideal pace-bowling conditions – a quick surface and overcast morning conditions. Seth Rance and Bennett started by angling the ball away from Bangladesh’s left-handed openers. A wide mid-off was an indicator that it was New Zealand’s plan all along. Rance generate appreciable lateral movement, but Bennett’s whippy action and pace continually hustled Bangladesh’s openers. Both Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar were rushed into their pulls and cuts, many false strokes even plonked into gaps.
Yet, both batsmen displayed admirable discipline to pick their areas and shots. Soumya went through the off side infield repeatedly but also intentionally lofted Rance’s occasional wayward line over the fielders.
After Tamim found sweeper cover off Neesham in the 16th over, Sabbir Rahman was undone by Mitchell Santner’s left-arm spin eight balls later. Those wickets allowed New Zealand an opportunity to pile on the pressure. In a 10-over period, between overs 18 and 27, New Zealand bowled 32 dot balls.
Bangladesh’s batsmen struggled to Ish Sodhi’s legspin, in particular. Soumya didn’t account for the extra revolutions, and therefore extra bounce, that a legspinner imparts as his sweep found midwicket for 61. Shakib Al Hasan, struggling for fluency, clipped one to mid-off.
Thereafter, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur not only limited the damage but also added some valuable runs. They added 59 runs together for the fifth wicket. Mushfiqur had eased to his fifty when, in an attempt to guide a length delivery to third man, found an edge that was snaffled up by Ronchi.
In their recent ODI series against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh had laid emphasis on holding wickets in hand for the end overs. But they had already lost their top half by the 38th over. So Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain didn’t have much choice but to collect whatever they could. Nine runs were scored of four overs after Mushfiqur’s dismissal, the 41st over was a maiden.
Mahmudullah, it seemed, lost his timing as his innings progressed, eventually falling to a stunning catch at short fine leg from Rance in the 48th over. Mosaddek, in between, provided the impetus with four fours in the space of eight balls.
Bennett collected two more wickets in the final over, using a hard length and his pace to get past Bangladesh’s lower order. The last four overs yielded just 23 runs. Bangladesh finished well short.