Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs Bangladesh 1st T20I 2023/24

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Bangladesh 137 for 5 (Litton 42*, Sarkar 22, Southee 1-16, Santner 1-16) beat New Zealand 134 for 9 (Neesham 48, Santner 23, Shoriful 3-26, Mahedi 2-14) by five wickets

The target of 135 looked briefly tricky for Bangladesh, but opener Litton Das held his nerve to anchor the chase and helped Bangladesh take a 1-0 lead against New Zealand in Napier to kickstart the three-match T20I series.

Litton was the watchful Bangladesh batter as he saw his batting partners getting starts and losing their wickets prematurely, but once the No. 7 Mahedi Hasan joined him, Litton took no further chances and turbocharged from 29 in 32 balls to finish with an unbeaten 36-ball 42.

The reason for Bangladesh’s comfortable win, though, was largely their bowlers, who restricted New Zealand to a below-par total on a slightly two-paced, but demon-free Napier surface. Shoriful Islam‘s two wickets in the second over of the game earned him returns of 3 for 26, while Mustafizur Rahman‘s variations got him 2 for 15 in four overs.

Mahedi starred with both ball and bat, starting New Zealand’s batting collapse with a wicket in the first over and then Daryl Mitchell’s later. He also hung around with Litton – just when Bangladesh appeared to be capitulating – to finish on an unbeaten 16-ball 19 including hitting the winning shot for four.

Shoriful, Mahedi, Mustafizur make merry

The New Zealand fans had their Santa hats on, but it was the visitors who were rejoicing early after Bangladesh chose to bowl at the toss. The offspinner Mahedi took the new ball and flattened Tim Seifert’s poles after getting a ball to turn in inside the first over. From the other end, Shoriful got a full ball to nip away from Finn Allen that took the edge to first slip, followed by the first-ball lbw dismissal of Glenn Phillips next delivery. Soon after, New Zealand’s score of 1 for 3 became 20 for 4 when Mitchell tried to go inside-out off Mahedi, only to play inside the line of the ball and see his stumps rattled.

Shoriful would return in his second spell to concede a few boundaries against Mitchell Santner and James Neesham, but he had the last laugh when he got Santner caught at short midwicket. Soumya Sarkar wasn’t sure he had taken the catch, but the TV umpire adjudicated it was clean.

Mustafizur had a wicketless first spell, but in the back-end ensured Bangladesh did not leak runs extravagantly. He stopped Neesham – looking solid on a 28-ball 48 at that point – on his tracks by having him hole out to deep cover. He also deceived Tim Southee. Overall, Mustafizur bowled 15 dots, conceded just one six against the run of play, and returned figures of 2 for 15. In all, the three bowlers combined for figures of 12-0-55-7.

NZ bowlers keep visitors on their toes

The chase looked simple, but New Zealand knew their new-ball effort could still possibly turn the tide their way. Adam Milne was too quick for Rony Talukdar, and he miscued a shot to mid-on in the second over.

Najmul Hossain Shanto counterattacked with four boundaries in his 16-ball 19, but his continued aggression caused his dismissal, trying to pull Neesham in the fifth over. Sarkar’s dismissal in the ninth over brought a swift end to a glittering innings of 22, and while Bangladesh were on course towards the target, a third wicket inside nine overs gave New Zealand just the opening they were looking for with another wicket exposing the lower-middle order.

But No. 5 Towhid Hridoy and Litton ensured that wouldn’t happen so soon. Their 29-run stand was effective if not attractive, and the visitors moved towards triple figures with the required run-rate well in control. However, Hridoy chipped a catch to short cover off Santner in the 14th, followed by Southee’s removal of Afif via a short ball. At 97 for 5, it looked like Bangladesh were beginning to lose the plot, more so when Litton survived a close LBW shout courtesy a review soon after.

Litton, Mahedi soak in the pressure

That’s when Litton, on 22 off 28 balls with zero boundaries in 15 overs, decided to leave his mark on the game. He eased some pressure by smacking Milne for a leg-side four in the 16th, followed by 10 runs in two balls off Ben Sears in the 18th including a lofted shot that Ish Sodhi caught in the deep but stepped over the boundary line.

That 14-run Sears over released any little hold New Zealand had on the contest, and Mahedi ended the game by carving Milne for six over cover, then pulling two in the deep, followed by a chip over the off side for a teasing four.

The win was Bangladesh’s first T20I win against New Zealand in New Zealand, and their first in Napier in three attempts. For the hosts, this was their third defeat in six games at McLean Park, with the contest now moving northwards to Mount Maunganui for the last two games.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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