Bangladesh tried a number of backup players in absence of Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah for the upcoming World Cup. Fair to say, almost all of them failed. And it brought Tamim and Mahmudullah back in the side for the New Zealand ODIs and in the contention for the World Cup. Both of them played 40+ innings on their return, and were the highest scorers of the team in the second ODI against New Zealand on Saturday. Yet, it was not enough.
New Zealand eventually prevailed and won their first ODI on Bangladeshi soil after 15 years.
The visitors beat the hosts by 86 runs and go 1-0 up in the three-match ODI series courtesy of the devastating leg spin of Ish Sodhi. The leg spinner wreaked havoc and picked up his career-best 6/39 to seal the match for the Kiwis.
For Bangladesh, Mahmudullah was the topscorer with 49 from 76 balls. He reached his 10,000 international runs on the way but missed the 5000-run landmark by one run.
Tamim played a 44-run innings on his post-retirement return. Both Tamim and Mahmudullah had their chance to go beyond the 50-run mark and take Bangladesh home. But they failed.
Apart from Mahmudullah and Tamim, Nasum Ahmed continued his good run with the bat and played a 21-run innings hitting two sixes and one boundary.
Earlier, New Zealand posted an above-par total of 254 in the second ODI against Bangladesh in Mirpur. After a blinder of a knock from Tom Blundell and good support from Henry Nicholls, the lower-order added valuable runs to take them past 250.
This was New Zealand's highest total in Mirpur.
Finn Allen played a beautiful straight drive for four off Mustafizur Rahman in the first ball of the match. But the Bangladesh new-ball bowlers - Mustafizur and Hasan Mahmud - made the ball talk on a pitch that offered a lot of bounce, certainly much more than the Mirpur pitch usually provides.
Hasan swung the ball prodigiously and both ways while Mustafizur surprised the batters with some deceptive bounce and seam movement. The left-arm seamer was exceptional with the new ball in the first match and continued his good work in this game as well.
Will Young, who played exceedingly well in the first match, looked out of sorts in his short stay and succumbed to the extra bounce off the pitch. Mustafizur accounted for the wicket.
Allen (12 off 15) looked good as he hit two boundaries but became Mustafizur's second victim after being caught in the slip by Soumya Sarkar.
Khaled Ahmed was hit for a boundary in his first ball in ODIs by Chad Bowes but the former had his revenge in the same over as the ball was chipped straight to square leg. New Zealand were under pressure then at 36 for three in the 8th over.
But as the innings progressed, the wicket got better and better for batting. Tom Blundell and Henry Nicholls, two decent players of spin, took advantage of that. The pitch offered much less turn than the previous game and the duo looked largely untroubled in the 95-run stand before Khaled got a much-awaited breakthrough. Nicholls (49 off 61) expected the ball to rise a little bit higher from back of a length but it didn't and took the outside edge of his bat.
Rachin Ravindra struck two fours early in his innings but again got dismissed off a turning ball, this time bowled by off-spinner Mahedi Hasan.
Blundell was very strong down the ground both off the pacers and spinners. He used his feet really well off the slower bowlers and scored at a fair clip. The wicketkeeper-batter hit six fours and a six in his superb 66-ball-68 before a searing Hasan Mahmud yorker castled him.
Bangladesh made a good comeback as they got three wickets in a space of 35 runs to claw their way back. Mahedi Hasan built a lot of pressure by bowling dot balls and that contributed to the dismissal of Blundell.
Hasan ran Ish Sodhi at the non-striker's end and was given out by the umpire as well before Litton Das decided to call the latter back.
New Zealand's tail wagged, much to the disappointment of Bangladesh. Sodhi (35 off 39), Kyle Jamieson (20 off 28) and Lockie Ferguson (13 off 12) frustrated the hosts with some effective hitting in the slog overs.