Bangladesh took an important step towards regaining their confidence, putting up their first disciplined all-round performance of the year at Fatullah yesterday and thumped giant-killers Ireland by 44 runs in their second warm-up game.
The win was based on a rollicking stand worth 116 runs off just 59 balls between Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan that helped the hosts put up a strong 179. In reply, the visitors were restricted to 135 for 8 by tidy bowling that saw the return of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza from injury.
Fit again bowlers Mashrafe and Shohag Gazi, who opened the attack, kept the runs in check and building pressure on the visitors. Shohag eventually got hard-hitting Paul Stirling out in the third over, while Mashrafe got Ed Joyce caught in the sixth with a slower delivery. The Narail-Express bowled in a good rhythm and seemed to have recovered well from side-strain.
Left-arm spinners Shakib and Abdur Razzak were brought in next. They took one wicket apiece and reduced Ireland to 59 for 4 in ten overs and essentially put them out of the game. Mushfiqur, who kept stumps for the first time since injuring his finger last month, also had his share of fun as he stumped Andrew Poynter off Shakib. A late burst from number seven Stuart Thompson, who hammered a 16-ball 34, could only defy the inevitable for a brief period.
Earlier, a game-changing century-stand between stalwarts Shakib and Mushfiqur for the fourth wicket helped the hosts recover from a slow start.
The players joined hands in the eleventh over, at which point the Tigers were 63 for 3.
After negotiating the Irish bowlers for a brief period, the duo then unleashed a series of drives to dispatch the bowlers to different corners of the park. The aggression began in the 13th over, with Mushfiqur slog-sweeping leg-spinner Andrew McBrine for a six. With all five fielders covering the crucial boundary routes, Mushfiqur came out with a variety of scoop-hits to maintain the aggression. The 15th over in particular, saw his bat twist and turn with precision as he scooped pacer Alex Cusack twice over the keeper's head for fours.
His shots down the ground were equally impressive as he regularly cashed in on hitting zones. The 18th over saw him smack Kevin O'Brien over long-on for a six, and then subsequently reach his 50 off 26 balls with a drive so straight that even the umpire needed to duck.
Shakib, unlike his over-aggressive approach in the last match, initially worked on giving Mushfiqur majority of the strike. But he made up for it with a flurry of boundaries towards the end of the innings. He reached his 50 -- off 30 balls -- in the last over, which also saw him smack four consecutive boundaries.
Earlier, Ireland through their spinners pegged back the hosts, who were poised at 28 for 1 at the end of six overs. Tamim Iqbal (32) and Sabbir Rahman (23) were dismissed after a few lofty hits after which Mushfiqur and Shakib took over.
While the warm-up wins may not be ranked high in profile, it was much needed considering the rough patch that the team has been having.
While there are still a plenty of aspects that the hosts need to work on -- key-bowler Abdur Razzak, for instance was smacked for 30 in three and continued to bowl short while Nasir Hossain, who did not need to bat in yesterday's game needs to hit form -- yesterday's win was a much required morale-booster. With the first phase successfully tucked in with two wins, the only question that remains now is whether the boost will be enough to get them past Afghanistan this Sunday.