Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza heaped praise on Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad, whose unbroken 72-run sixth-wicket stand delivered Bangladesh’s first away or neutral-venue win over New Zealand in the last match of the Ireland tri-series at the Clontarf Cricket Club in Dublin on May 24.
Mushfiqur (run-a-ball 45 with three fours and a six) and Mahmudullah (46 off 36 with six fours and a six) came together with New Zealand’s total of 270 for eight still 71 runs away with five wickets in hand. In next was Nasir Hossain, back in the side after seven months, with the bowlers to follow.
“You can’t buy experience -- the way Mushfiqur and Riyad batted was unbelievable,” Mashrafe said after the match. “We lost a few matches from that situation, so that fear was there. But the way they batted was very good.”
It was a match where Bangladesh had to overcome adversity in both innings. The match started with the fielders dropping catches and allowing the Kiwis to pile on the runs before spirited bowling in the latter half pulled them back. In the chase, there was a blip in the middle where, after a 136-run second-wicket stand between Tamim Iqbal (65 off 80 with six boundaries and a six) and Sabbir Rahman (65 off 83 with nine boundaries), Bangladesh went from 143 for one in the 27th over to 199 for five in the 39th.
“I think we could not sustain the way we started. There were dropped catches that were costly. In the middle the pressure was created after Shakib and I picked up two wickets each. At the same time, Nasir also bowled very well. Mustafizur as always was good. Rubel bowled very well. We started bowling really well from the middle overs, and we could save around 50-60 runs because of that. While batting, early wickets of course puts pressure, but the way Tamim and Sabbir was exactly what was needed,” Mashrafe, who had figures of two for 52 off 10 overs, said.
Although New Zealand had won the league-based tri-series before the last match started by virtue of their earlier wins against Bangladesh and Ireland, it was an important match between Champions Trophy groupmates and also because the win enabled Bangladesh to rise to sixth position in the ODI rankings. The promotion enhances their chances of direct qualification to the 2019 World Cup where the top eight teams as of September 30, 2017 will gain automatic entry.
“It was a very important match for us. We knew that if we won the match we would go up to sixth. It was also important because it is good for us if we can win a match like this before the Champions Trophy,” Mashrafe added.
Although New Zealand were missing some key players who will be back in time for the Champions Trophy kicking off in England and Wales with the Bangladesh-England match on June 1, Mashrafe placed value in the hard-fought victory.
“I think their bowling will be a bit better when Tim Southee and Trent Boult return. Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill will be back too probably,” the captain said. “But even then I think that a win always gives a team a boost. Before the New Zealand match we have two practice matches [against Pakistan and India] and two important matches against England and Australia. A win gives us confidence and it lets us leave Ireland with confidence, so I hope that will help us.
“The group we are playing in is almost a group of death. We have to play the top three teams in the world. But you cannot predict anything – on your good day you can win. We will try to be on our toes from the beginning and if the opportunity comes, hopefully we can utilise it.”
With this match concluding Bangladesh’s Ireland tour, Mashrafe expressed satisfaction about the time spent in the cricketing outpost.
“Maybe the first ODI against New Zealand we could have done better. One or two decisions could have come in our favour, but it’s no use talking about such things. But so far, we have come close to doing what we set out to do here and now we have to do our best in England.”