Yesterday at the Malahide Cricket Club Ground in Dublin was a special day for the Bangladesh women's cricket team in more ways than one. They continued their upward graph since winning the Women's T20 Asia Cup in Malaysia earlier this month by winning the second T20I against Ireland by four wickets and taking an unassailable 2-0 lead -- their first bilateral series win -- in the three-match series.
They were also sharing a venue with the Indian men's cricket team, who would play the Ireland men later on the same day, which meant a healthy crowd the likes of which women cricketers from either nation would rarely have seen.
The match and the manner of the win was worthy of the occasion. Needing six to win off the last over, Sanjida Islam hammered the first ball from Eimear Richardson just over the square leg fence and set off celebrations in the tourists' camp. While they had to sweat to win the first encounter off the last ball the day before, Sanjida ensured that they won the series in style.
Chasing a modest 126 to win after the hosts were kept to 125 for six, the Tigresses had the game under control almost throughout the chase. Opener Ayasha Alam departed for seven with the score on 21 in the third over, but any home hopes of a fightback were snuffed out by a 75-run second-wicket stand in just 10.4 overs between opener Shamima Sultana and Fargana Hoque. Shamima hit 51 off 49 balls with nine fours and Fargana scored a 34-ball 36 with three fours and a six.
Their dismissals in quick succession produced a slight hiccup, but the Tigresses being comfortably abreast of the required run rate soothed nerves even as they slipped from 96 for one to 110 for five as Rumana Ahmed, Nigar Sultana and Fahima Khatun all departed cheaply. Sanjida, coming in at 108 for four, with 18 needed off 20 balls, kept her cool and eventually stamped the tourists' superiority with a six.
Earlier, after Ireland chose to bat first, the hosts were kept on a tight leash by disciplined Bangladesh bowling. Jahanara Alam, who had bagged Bangladesh women's cricket's maiden international five-for the day before, had stingy figures of two for 15 from her four overs. There was little respite from the other end as left-arm spinner Nahida Akter took two for 18 while leg-spinners Rumana Ahmed and Fahima Khatun took one wicket apiece.
Ireland's Cecilia Joyce was a cut above her teammates with an accomplished 47-ball 60 with six fours and a six, but apart from a 20 from captain Laura Delaney, there were no other contributions to speak of from the home side.
The third and final T20I will take place on Sunday at Sydney Parade in Dublin.
SCORES IN BRIEF
IRELAND: 125 for 6 (C Joyce 60, Delany 20; Jahanara 2-15, Nahida 2-18, Rumana 1-23)
BANGLADESH: 126 for 6 in 19.1 overs (Shamima 51, Fargana 36, Sanjida 11 not out; Delany 2-21, Metcalfe 2-26)
Result: Bangladesh women won by 4 wickets.