REACHING FOR THE MOON! Lower-order Bangladesh batsman Nayeem Islam goes on a lap of joy after his knock of 73 not out that sealed the match for Tigers against Zimbabwe in the fifth and final one-day international at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium yesterday.Photo: STAR
At 187-9 and needing another 35 runs to win Bangladesh looked dead and buried in the final match of a year in which they have hardly put a foot wrong. Out in the middle was Nayeem Islam, who had earlier shown glimpses of his ability as a good hitter of the ball but had never done anything massive like yesterday that saw the home side snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat in dramatic fashion.
With last batsman Nazmul plodding at the other end, Nayeem decided to take the challenge and the pocket dynamo did it in style hitting three consecutive sixes in the 48th over amidst deafening roars from a capacity crowd who got full value of their money after a disappointing first game at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium two days ago.
The exciting one-wicket victory courtesy of Nayeem's blistering knock simply showed our team spirit. The statement came from an elated Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan after the nerve-wrecking finish.
“It was really a good sign that someone batting at number eight won the match for us. Recently Riyad (Mahmudullah) helped us win a match in the West Indies from a similarly difficult condition. These kind of performances simply show that we are in a position to be a balanced side'” he said pointing out the bright sides of Thursday's success.
“Nayeem plays in a difficult position because he has got hardly any chance to bowl a complete 10-over spell nor does he have enough opportunity for batting. It was nice to see he has got the opportunity today and capitalized on it brilliantly. His effort just shows the spirit of our team,” said the captain praising Nayeem's superb effort.
Nothing could have been better for the port city crowd than the way the fifth and final one-day match between victorious Bangladesh and Zimbabwe ended. There was no shortage of excitement in the dead rubber after Bangladesh had confirmed the five-match series 3-1 by winning the fourth game at the same venue on Tuesday. The most satisfying aspect for the home crowd was that the Tigers could mange finish the resounding year not with sorrow but joy.
It is not so much a common occurrence that Bangladesh won such a close match. They had another instance of a one-wicket success against the same team at Harare in 2007 and that time the hero was Aftab Ahmed. This time kudos must go to Nayeem who showed a rare brand of match-winning ability during his cool yet blistering 73-run knock to dash the Zimbabweans hope of finishing the dismal tour with pride.
“Actually I didn't think anything rather I just tried my best to win the game and I tried to learn something from my mistakes in the previous few matches. I have got an opportunity to do something for my team and at the end I could do it,” said the man-of-the-match Nayeem.
And without any doubt the performance of Nayeem and Mahmudullah Riyad in the match satisfied their coach Jamie Siddons who wanted to see his under performing charges in the series come out in the last game although the problem remains with the top order batting.
Riding on a maiden hundred from Brendan Taylor, the visitors showed a much improved performance in the game and put up a decent total of 221-9, their best effort in the series, on a much better track although there was overcast conditions persisting throughout the day.
Bangladesh's top order batsmen had a lack of temperament and application in their batting in the chase and things became worse following three frustrating run outs including Mohammad Ashraful, Riyad and Tamim Iqbal, who had to leave the field in the first over by receiving a short ball to his gloves and had to return at a later stage to save his side.
And captain Shakib was also concerned with the poor efforts from the top order and issued a warning that they should rectify their mistakes in the domestic competition before the tough challenges against India and Sri Lanka in January next year.
“Our top order and middle order batsmen should be careful about their job because the performance in the series was not satisfactory and one thing we must keep in our mind that we can't survive against teams like India or Sri Lanka if we make the same mistakes,” said Shakib.
He also blamed himself for making a stupid mistake.
“We have to go forward with this team but we have to work hard to show our improvement against the top sides. It's a great year in terms of winning matches but we have to compete well against the top-ranked sides which is where the challenge actually lies for us,” he said.
Zimbabwe stand-in skipper Hamilton Masakadza on the other hand expressed his disappointment in losing the final game.
“Brendan (Taylor) gave us a good position to win the match and our bowlers also did well but unfortunately we lost the match. We are now looking to our next assignment in South Africa,” said Masakadza.