Shanto offers the sole silver lining
Amid all the rumours surrounding the announcement of the World Cup squad, the focus on Bangladesh's performance in their third and series-deciding encounter against New Zealand took a back seat at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
The curiosity was more on whether Tamim Iqbal would be selected for the World Cup squad than how Bangladesh team would perform in their last ODI prior to the fast-approaching showpiece event next month.
However, due to yet another poor batting display, the hosts went on to face a seven-wicket thumping and New Zealand cruised to victory and sealed the series 2-0.
It was Bangladesh's first series defeat against the Black Caps in fifteen years and the Tigers will thus head into the World Cup without little momentum in their sails.
Stand-in skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto, who marked his ODI captaincy debut with innings-highest score of 76, informed that the team are not too worried over their collective batting form after failing to post 200 in the last two matches.
"Our batsmen didn't score big runs. Most of us got the starts but no big scores. Think it'd have been different if I'd batted till the end. We needed two big partnerships. Hopefully, next time the batters will take responsibility and bat long," said Shanto during the post-match presentation ceremony yesterday.
Bangladesh earlier made four changes to their playing eleven from the previous match. Shanto came in for the first time in the series, alongside Mushfiqur Rahim, Shoriful Islam and Zakir Hossain, with the latter making his ODI debut.
Despite having elected to bat, Bangladesh were struggling at 35 for three inside six overs. Young opener Tanzid Hasan Tamim, who made the cut in the World Cup squad, scored five while Zakir also fell cheaply.
Shanto, on the other end, after having recovered from a hamstring injury, looked solid as he smashed his fifth ODI fifty to remain the only silver lining in the Tigers batting unit.
Shanto also reached a special landmark by becoming the highest Bangladeshi run-getter on ODI captaincy debut, surpassing Aminul Islam Bulbul's 70-run knock against India in 1998.
New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne, introduced for the first time in the series, was the pick of the bowlers. He scalped four wickets for 34 runs, while Trent Boult and Cole McConchie picked up two each.
As Bangladesh travel to India for the World Cup on the back of three series defeats this year, regular skipper Shakib Al Hasan and head coach Chandika Hathurusingha will surely need to find better tactics for a side who enjoyed a terrific home record till 2022.