Sports desk: It went so quiet in the rest of Warner Park that you could clearly hear the Bangladesh dressing room celebrating their first away ODI series win in nine years.
West Indies fought till the end, but ultimately went down by 18 runs in a contest that was decided by the side with fewer mistakes and more nerve.
The 2-1 series win comes on the back of an ordinary Test series, but the visitors once again showed that ODIs remain their preferred format.
It is also Bangladesh’s first ODI series win in West Indies, and the second such win overall against the opposition. West Indies though remain without a series win for four years now, and much of the defeat fell at their feet in Basseterre.
Rovman Powell’s unbeaten 41-ball 74 that included five fours and four sixes, was the only thing that stood between Bangladesh and an easier win, but he too fizzled out in the last two overs, hitting only one six. He had little support at the other end, with Shai Hope taking up 94 balls to make 64, which is likely to remain a talking point across the Caribbean.
But Bangladesh had no such problems when they batted. Tamim Iqbal’s 103 came off 124 with seven fours and two sixes, which set up the last 10 overs for Mahmudullah, whose unbeaten 49-ball 67 got the visitors to a 300-plus total. He added 53 runs for the fifth wicket with captain Mashrafe Mortaza, who promoted himself to No. 6 for the first time in 10 years and made a crucial 25-ball 36.
Tamim had batted till the 39th over, helping Bangladesh to a position of strength after they made another indifferent start. Anamul Haque fell early once again, leaving Tamim and Shakib with the rebuilding job for the third time in a row. They added 81 runs for the second wicket, Tamim starting off with three fours in the first Powerplay before surviving a chance at short midwicket on 28.
Shakib, who struck three fours in his 37 off 43 balls, fell to a flighted Ashley Nurse delivery. Mushfiqur was bowled by a Nurse half-tracker before Tamim and Mahmudullah added 48 runs for the fourth wicket, during which Tamim reached his century.
His first six was a straight hit off Sheldon Cottrell while the second – a slog sweep off Bishoo – took him to 98 before he reached his century in the following over.
Bangladesh made 96 off the last ten overs.
A whack over the off-side off Mashrafe signaled Gayle’s intent in West Indies’ chase. His first six was literally hit out of the ground. The replaced ball was sent to the boundary the next ball, albeit through an edge going past slip. His next six was a slap over extra cover before Bangladesh pulled things back with Evin Lewis’ wicket. Mashrafe removed him for the third game in a row after he’d scratched around for 13 off 33 balls.
But Gayle went on, hammering Mosaddek for a six over his head, before launching Mahmudullah twice off successive deliveries in the 18th over, first over midwicket and then over long-on. But Rubel Hossain brought an end to Gayle’s whirlwind knock in the 22nd over, having him caught at long-on by Mehidy.
Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer understandably couldn’t push at Gayle’s pace but did the next best thing: dragged West Indies along for another 13.5 overs without any further damages.
Hetmyer struck two fours in his 30 off 42 balls before Mehidy bowled him with one that skidded on from short of a length. Hope, who was dropped by Rubel at long-off on 36, added another 45 runs for the fifth wicket with Rovman Powell who had to do all the heavy lifting at the end. Hope finally fell in the 44th over, with West Indies requiring to score at more than 10 an over.
Powell struck all four of his sixes off Mustafizur, two over midwicket and two over long-on, but neither Holder nor Nurse could provide him the strike at crucial times or provide big hits of their own.
Bangladesh just held on to the win. Mehidy was the best bowler on show once again, picking one for 45 while Mashrafe took two for 63. Mustafizur and Rubel also took one wicket each.