Bangladesh finally proved themselves to be a formidable team at the ICC 2015 World Cup. They had made it through the group stages into the knockouts for the first time ever. Their performance in the World Cup did more than just entertain, it gave them some credibility as a side. Bangladesh were now a real team to play, a team to beat.
With their new credibility came new challenges. The first of which was a home series against Pakistan. Three ODIs, one T20 and two Test matches. Bangladesh’s last win in an ODI against Pakistan came sixteen years ago and since then Pakistan had not lost once. Until now.
The series was always going to be a challenge for Pakistan. Bangladesh were coming into the series off their World Cup high. They looked like one of the most stable teams throughout the World Cup and had finally found their missing puzzle piece. Fast bowlers. Pakistan on the other hand were transitioning into a new era of cricket. One without Misbah Ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi. An era of new Pakistani cricketers led by Azhar Ali. Even though Pakistan’s lack of experience made it Bangladesh’s best chance of success, the outcome of the first three ODIs was far from expected.
Bangladesh did more than break Pakistan’s streak. They demolished it. It was a clinical whitewash with Bangladesh outplaying Pakistan in all three ODIs. A whitewash was expected to be in Pakistan’s repertoire but not Bangladesh’s. Beating a side like England in a World Cup was a completely different ballgame to playing a bilateral series but they stepped up to the challenge.
The initial breakthrough was led by Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim who put on an incredible 178-run partnership. It was an incredible performance that allowed the home side to set a colossal target of 329. It was a target that would have been tough for any team let alone this new Pakistani side. The side that was being led by a man who had played is last ODI in January 2012. However Ali led from the front with a 73 ball 72. The captain was initially backed up by Haris Sohail and Mohammad Rizwan who both scored half centuries however six of Pakistan’s XI were removed for single figures and they were bowled out for 250.
The second ODI was Pakistan’s chance to bounce back but once again it was their batting that let them down. None of their top six batsmen were able to make a 50+ score. Only an unbeaten partnership of 185 between Saad Nasim and Wahab Riaz saved the visitors from a complete embarrassment. Defending 239 was not out of the question however. Not with a bowling attack like Pakistan’s. An attack that had only a month ago suffocated the South African batsmen. Once again though, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim stepped up to the plate. The hosts made it look like a walk in the park as they chased down the total with 11 overs to spare.
Bangladesh had finally recorded their first series win against Pakistan but they weren’t finished. The third ODI followed a similar suit to the second. Bangladesh chased down 250 with eight wickets in hand and 10 overs to spare.
It was an all round quality performance from Bangladesh. They had proven they weren’t just a one trick pony and that it was time they were taken seriously not just by transitioning teams.