Napier, Dec 27: In a historic encounter on Wednesday, Bangladesh scripted a memorable five-wicket triumph over New Zealand in the opening game of their three-match T20I series.
The victory not only marked Bangladesh’s first-ever Twenty20 win on New Zealand soil but also followed closely on the heels of their maiden away one-day international triumph over the Black Caps in the same city just four days prior.
Opting to bowl after winning the toss, Bangladesh’s bowlers delivered a stunning performance, restricting New Zealand to a below-par total on a two-paced Napier surface. Shoriful Islam’s early exploits saw him finish with impressive figures of 3 for 26, while Mustafizur Rahman’s variations earned him 2 for 15 in his four overs. Mahedi Hasan was the star with both bat and ball, initiating New Zealand’s batting collapse with a wicket in the first over and later contributing an unbeaten 16-ball 19 with the bat.
“I’m really excited and very proud of how we played,” said Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto. “Our bowlers learnt quickly in these conditions with the new ball,” Shanto added. “We were really confident after we restricted them.” Chasing a target of 135, opener Litton Das played a pivotal role, holding his nerve and anchoring the chase. Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, Litton’s composed innings, coupled with valuable contributions from Mahedi Hasan and Towhid Hridoy, ensured Bangladesh reached the target with five wickets in hand. Litton finished unbeaten with a crucial 42 off 36 balls, steering his team to a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series.
Shoriful Islam was the pick of the Bangladesh bowlers with 3-26, including having Finn Allen caught and Glenn Phillips trapped LBW in consecutive balls.
While Adam Milne’s early breakthroughs provided New Zealand with hope, Bangladesh’s resilience and determination thwarted any potential comeback. Mustafizur’s economical spell in the latter stages and Litton’s calculated aggression in the final overs sealed the historic win for Bangladesh.
“Credit to Bangladesh, they bowled well,” said Mitchell Santner, who captained New Zealand with regular white ball skipper Kane Williamson rested.
“We fought hard with the ball to make it interesting, but the powerplay took it away from us with the bat,” Santner added.
With 11 T20Is scheduled before the showpiece event, including clashes with New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe, along with participation in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), Bangladesh Head coach Chandika Hathurusingha on Wednesday highlighted the dual focus on immediate series and long-term World Cup preparations.
“We got 11 games now and then the BPL as well but this is a national team so we are trying to get our combination and give the players kind of roles that they will play during the World Cup and so that’s the plan,” said Hathurusingha.
“I said 11 matches from now to the World Cup and that’s what we got in terms of matches. Whether it’s ideal or not that’s all we got we have to get our plans and roles right within that period,” he added.