New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first. Martin Guptill provided them much needed quick start while punishing Bangladeshis pacers who looked off-colour. Taskin Ahmed who returned to the Bangladesh team for this match provided them first breakthrough when he dismissed Ronchi for the score of 16. After losing two wickets by 13th over, experienced duo of Williamson and Taylor consolidated NZ inning with a century partnership between them. Williamson in particular has been in great form recently and scored a well crafted half century before getting run out on score of 57.
NZ were 228 for 4 in 43rd over and looked to set a big target. That was the time when captain Mashrafe gambled and Mosaddek and brought him into the attack. It proved to be a successful bold move to throw the ball to an off-spinner in slog overs and NZ lost their plot with flurry of wickets while trying to up the ante late in the innings. NZ batting line-up has been facing this issue of weak lower order for quite some time and they were thoroughly exposed this time. They could manage only 37 runs in last 7 overs and biggest credit can be given to the Bangladeshi captain himself. Of course bowling also supported their move.
Although NZ lost the plot in final overs, target of 266 was not going to be an easy one for Bangladesh against pace attack of Southee, Boult and Milne. And it looked like one-sided affair, when Tim Southee completely blew the top order with great display of swing bowling in first 5 overs. Bangladesh lost Tamim, Soumya and Shabbir for single digit scores. Loss of Tamim was probably biggest blow to them as he has been backbone of Bangladesh ODI team for quite some time and struggles of the team without him was exemplified during their run chase against India in warm up game few days ago.
When Shakib-al-Hasan, who is arguably the greatest Bangladeshi cricketer, joined Mahmudullah at the score of 33 for 4, chances looked bleak for the team and NZ were completely on the top. Bangladeshi fans had hoped for another miracle from Shakib as he has done in past multiple times, although he has not been in good form off-late after kicking off 2017 with a great knock against NZ in first test in Newzealand.
Mahmudullah countered swing and short ball attack very well, while Shakib started playing his natural game. They eased to their fifties by 31st over while playing their trademark shots. Both batsmen never allowed required run rate to shoot up with consistent clean hitting for boundaries.
With victory in sight and Bangladesh needing 70 runs of last 10 overs, it was all upto the experience of these two batsmen and skills of NZ pacers. Bangladesh had faltered many time in tricky situations, but this time both batsmen just started playing all types of shots freely for which NZ bowlers had no answer. Pair reached 200 runs partnership in 45th over which is first for Bangladesh. In the end they cruised to one of their most memorable victories which they will cherish for long time.
Shakib reaffirmed his status of one of the best all-rounder in world cricket with this inning while Mashrafe once again proved that he is one of the best captain in world today.
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