Bangladesh will be buoyed by their victory in the second T20I, after Mustafizur Rahman successfully defended 19 runs in the final over against New Zealand on Friday. While there were some alarming situations in the game, the home side showed once again how formidable they can be playing in their own conditions.
Tom Latham played a gallant knock under the circumstances for the visitors. He was unbeaten on 65 off 49 balls, but his only regret will be missing out on hitting the last-ball six against Mustafizur. New Zealand were slightly behind the eight-ball in the rest of the game, but they came up with moments when they fought back against Bangladesh.
With Rachin Ravindra removing Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim in quick succession, the hosts had to dig deep to get to 141 for 6, thanks largely to the 32-run sixth wicket stand between Mahmudullah and Nurul Hasan.
Bangladesh were also aided by their two pace bowlers when it really mattered. Mustafizur and Mohammad Saifuddin defended 36 runs in the last three overs, knowing full well that the captain couldn’t veer off his all-pace plan at this stage. Saifuddin is always fighting for his position, but after his three-wicket haul against Australia, the team management have rewarded him with the first two matches against New Zealand.
The visitors wouldn’t completely feel out of this series yet though. They can take heart, and lessons, from their captain. Latham promoted himself to No 3, and despite a large gap in his T20 resume, he batted with a mix of one-day and T20 skills. He relied heavily on ones and twos at the start, and only went for his six fours and a six against ordinary deliveries.
He found a bit of help from Will Young and Cole McConchie, but New Zealand batters have to come up with more contributions if they are to keep themselves afloat in this series.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, would breath a sigh of relief after their openers Mohammad Naim and Liton added 59 runs. It is in these positions where Bangladesh are superior to New Zealand, as they have the experienced hands like Shakib and Mahmudullah to guide them through tough situations.
(last five completed matches)
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In the spotlight
On his 100th T20I, Mahmudullah said that he has nothing special planned but these days his white-ball form is worth watching. He has batted better than most in these difficult pitches in Dhaka, often having to rescue the side. As a T20I captain too, Mahmudullah has proved his stability, and offers a calming presence.
Rachin Ravindra can’t catch a break as a batter. He got out playing a chip back at the bowler in his T20I debut, before missing a long-hop in the second game. But New Zealand are getting his service through his bowling, after he gave them three big wickets on Friday. Ravindra has to be a little patient to get runs in Dhaka, though his bowling has showed that he has the makings of a street-smart cricketer.
Bangladesh are unlikely to change the combination that has given them a 2-0 series lead.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Liton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Nurul Hasan (wk), 7 Afif Hossain, 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Nasum Ahmed
The availability of Finn Allen and Matt Henry would determine New Zealand’s playing XI. Scott Kuggeleijn is also another fast bowler in the group who hasn’t played yet.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Rachin Ravindra, 2 Tom Blundell/Finn Allen, 3 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 4 Colin de Grandhomme, 5 Will Young, 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Cole McConchie, 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Ajaz Patel, 10 Hamish Bennett, 11 Ben Sears/Matt Henry
Pitch and condition
Finally a team scored 140-plus runs batting first at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, on a pitch that looked harder, and offered something for the batters. The trick now would be to find a similar pitch in the rest of the square. There’s also rain in the offing, particularly after 4pm.
Stats and trivia
- Mahmudullah has become the eighth cricketer to reach 100 T20Is, and the first from Bangladesh.
- Mahmudullah is also Bangladesh’s most successful T20I captain, having led the side to 12 wins so far. Mashrafe Mortaza’s ten wins is now in second place.
- Tom Latham and Cole McConchie failed to get 20 off the last over in the second game. Only two teams have won scoring 20 or more in the last over of a T20I – Australia beat Pakistan in the 2010 World T20 semi-final, and West Indies beat England in the 2016 World T20 final.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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