It was smooth sailing for the most part against Australia in the last T20I series. History was made as Bangladesh won their first-ever bilateral series against the Aussies. Things were expected to be similar against New Zealand in the ongoing T20I series.
History was made here too when Bangladesh won their first-ever T20I against the Kiwis. The second match was also won and this was expected to be the game that won the Tigers their first-ever T20I series over New Zealand.
In fact, the level of dominance in wins was expected to be greater, given that this was a New Zealand team that was not its first-choice side and a completely different one from the team that would be playing in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
But that was not to be as the Kiwis showed more heart and fight to get a big 52-run win against Bangladesh in the 3rd T20I and keep the series alive with the hosts leading it 2-1.
Ajaz Patel bagged a four-wicket haul following an important 66-run stand between Tom Blundell and Henry Nicholls.
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first. Finn Allen, playing his first match, took on the spinners- Mahedi Hasan and Nasum Ahmed- and raced to 15 off nine balls with three boundaries. Mahmudullah brought in Mustafizur Rahman in the third over and the left-arm seamer straightaway deceived Allen with an off-cutter. Allen, after a flying start, was dismissed caught at mid-on. Mustafizur bowled a wicket maiden.
New Zealand had a decent powerplay, scoring 41 for one in the first six overs.
Will Young hit Mohammad Saifuddin for a boundary in the seventh over but the fast bowler came back strongly with a slower delivery, pinning Young leg-before. The right-hander scored a run-a-ball 20.
Saifuddin struck once more to remove Colin de Grandhomme in the same manner, leaving New Zealand reeling at 47 for three.
Captain Mahmudullah, in his 100th T20I, cleaned up Black Caps opener Rachin Ravindra in the 10th over for 20. The visitors were 58 for four then.
New Zealand were in further trouble when Latham was dismissed, caught and bowled by Mahedi Hasan in the next over.
The visiting side needed a substantial partnership to give their bowlers something to bowl at. The onus was on Tom Blundell and Henry Nicholls to rebuild the innings as well as bat positively. The pair pushed and nudged for singles and doubles initially and then opted to play a bit more aggressively.
New Zealand scored 46 off the last five overs and posted 128 for five after 20 overs. Henry Nicholls was unbeaten on 36 off 30 balls and Blundell made an undefeated run-a-ball 30. They added 66 in the crucial sixth-wicket partnership. This was the second time New Zealand finished an innings without hitting a six.
Chasing 129, Bangladesh openers- Mohammad Naim and Liton Das- started off on a positive note. Naim struck two fours off Jacob Duffy in the first over. Liton joined the party too, hitting a boundary off Ajaz Patel and two off Cole McConchie. But McConchie had the last laugh as he trapped Liton leg-before in the third over. The right-hander made 15 off 10 balls.
Mahedi Hasan was sent in at three ahead of the genuine batters but he couldn't score more than one, leaving Bangladesh in a spot of bother at 24 for two in the fourth over. Patel accounted for Mahedi's wicket.
In the same over, Shakib Al Hasan surprisingly opted for a big shot but couldn't middle it all and ended up holing out to the long-on fielder. Shakib perished without troubling the scorers.
Bangladesh, from 23 for none at one stage, were restricted to 30 for three after six overs.
Bangladesh were four down in the very next over as Ravindra sent back Mohammad Naim to the pavilion.
Ajaz Patel picked up two in two in the 10th over, dismissing the skipper Mahmudullah and Afif Hossain. Bangladesh were tottering at 43 for six, still requiring 85 off 63 balls with only four wickets in hand.
The required run-rate kept going up and it made Nurul Hasan go for a big shot. The wicketkeeper couldn't hit that cleanly and Tom Blundell took a spectacular catch. Bangladesh were then 57 for seven after 13 overs.
Bangladesh's chase never got going as they were bundled out for 76. Mushfiqur Rahim was the highest scorer for Bangladesh (20 not out off 37).
Ajaz Patel and Cole McConchie stood out for New Zealand with the ball, picking up four and three respectively.