The Black Caps have finished their Twenty20 series against Bangladesh on a high, with a dominant 27-run victory in the fifth and final match in Dhaka.
The win sees the series end 3-2 in Bangladesh’s favour – a better return for New Zealand than Australia’s 4-1 defeat last month – but the dead rubber finale was made even less meaningful when Bangladesh trotted out a part-time bowling lineup, having rested Shakib Al Hasan, Mahedi Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin.
In truth, not much can be taken from the series in the short-term. With none of this squad selected for the Twenty20 World Cup next month, the strong performances of Finn Allen, Tom Latham and Ajaz Patel will only be relevant if injuries allow them a late call-up to the showpiece tournament.
The biggest benefits will likely come from the intelligence gained on the second-string crop ahead of future tours. The destructive Allen looks capable of opening the innings for a decade, Latham and Patel have proven themselves as a worthy sub-continent selection in all formats, while the rookie trio of Rachin Ravindra, Cole McConchie and Ben Sears all showed enough to justify continued consideration.
Allen and Latham were the standouts to cap the series, with Allen blasting 41 off 24 balls and Latham an unbeaten 50 off 37.
While aided by a pitch similar to what the Black Caps will be playing on at the World Cup – as opposed to the dire dregs earlier in the series – Allen had been by far the cleanest striker of the ball all series, and this time he pushed on after a customary quick start.
A 19-run over off Shoriful Islam showcased his prodigious power, and Bangladesh’s only first-choice bowler was taking some tap too, with Nasum Ahmed also getting the treatment from Allen.
The best partnership of the series saw the Black Caps at 58-0 after 5.3 overs, and while both fell in the next three balls, Latham arrived at the crease and guided the visitors through a top-order stumble.
Bangladesh’s attack played into the batsmen’s hands, with second-string seamers and part-timers far easier to get away than the stingy regulars. Latham emulated Allen with two towering sixes, taking 18 off the penultimate over as he finished the series with a brilliant 159 runs at an average of 53 and strike rate of 109.
The helpful pitch and New Zealand’s rollicking start also allowed for partnerships to build, and most importantly provided acceleration at the death, the Black Caps flew from 96-4 after 14 overs to finish at 161-5.
Bangladesh never looked likely in response. A 26-run opening stand was ended by Patel, aided by an excellent one-handed catch from Scott Kuggeleijn at point, and they tumbled to 48-4 at the halfway mark as Ravindra, McConchie and Sears each picked up a scalp.
Sears’ breakthrough was his first international wicket, and showed why he was shoulder-tapped for international experience as he flung a delivery at 147km/h, and Mohammad Naim could only edge it to Latham behind the stumps.
Afif Hossain (49 not out off 33 balls) enjoyed the more batter-friendly conditions as he and Mahmudullah put on a 63-run stand, and he gave the hosts a glimmer of hope as 14 came from a Sears over, nine from Ravindra, 15 off McConchie and then 12 via Patel.
However, a brilliant over from Kuggeleijn conceded just three and removed Mahmudullah, and further strong death bowling from Jacob Duffy sealed a comfortable victory.
The same squad, minus Sears who will bow out as Matt Henry takes the new ball, will now travel to Pakistan for a three-match ODI series, which starts on Friday night.
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