Bangladesh off-spinner Shohag Gazi, playing only his second match, flighted the ball to opposite number Sunil Narine of West Indies, who tried to drive it through the off-side but did not connect well and the ball went at a brisk pace in the air towards cover. On another day the ball may have eluded Tamim Iqbal, but yesterday he leapt to his left and at full stretch pulled off a two-handed blinder to hammer the final nail in the Caribbean coffin.
Bangladesh, riding on a complete team performance and a century by newcomer Anamul Haque, won the second ODI of the five-match series against West Indies by their biggest victory margin yet -- 160 runs. In doing so at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium, the Tigers have ensured that they maintained an all-win record in ODIs in Khulna, which can now be called the 'Tigers' den' because of the strong record of the Tigers here, the name the national cricket team have taken from the Royal Bengal Tiger of the nearby Sundarban mangrove forest.
A more apt finish there could not have been -- Shohag, the outlandishly impressive newcomer taking his third wicket to seal Bangladesh's biggest win, and Tamim, who has in the past been derided for his sluggish fielding, pulling off the catch of the series so far. It was apt because this series is changing perceptions about what this team is capable of.
That is not to say that Bangladesh set out in this series to change perceptions; they merely continued on the level of performance set in the Asia Cup in March -- a mode of operation that depends on every team member, superstar or not, pulling their weight in the same direction, and underscored by a mental resilience that was on ample display yesterday.
Anamul's 145-ball 120 will get due column space, but what may be buried in the felicitations is the crucial part Mashrafe Bin Mortaza played in the Tigers' spectacular defence of 292. Chris Gayle was the one major thorn that had to be removed if victory was to be achieved. The West Indian started ominously and targeted Mashrafe, the Tigers' best bowler. He smashed a six and a four in Mashrafe's third over, and followed it up with a gunshot boundary through covers in his fourth.
A lesser-hearted bowler may have been cowed, but as Gayle skipped down the track for a repeat, Mashrafe pounded the ball in short for it to kiss the edge of the danger man's bat on way to a delighted Mushfiqur Rahim's gloves. The thorn had been removed. At 2 for 32 in the eighth 293 seemed a distant dream.
Once Shohag -- who had opened the bowling to limit Gayle's carnage -- had Samuels caught behind 31 runs later, the match was in the Tigers' paws. It was evident from the first match, which Bangladesh won by seven wickets, that apart from Gayle and Samuels West Indies did not have the personnel to negotiate the skilful spinners. But the manner of capitulation still came as a surprise. Veteran spinner Abdur Razzak got into the act, dismissing Darren Bravo, who put up some resistance, and Dwayne Smith and Devon Thomas, who put up none being dismissed leg-before and bowled in the same over. When Thomas exited West Indies were 6 for 78 in the 19th over.
Part-time twirlers Naeem Islam and Mahmudullah Riyad accounted for Kieron Pollard and skipper Darren Sammy respectively to leave the visitors in the throes of 8 for 111, beyond any possible recovery. Andre Russell was run out on 132, which was the score when Tamim's catch sealed the deal.
Earlier, a Bangladesh record third-wicket partnership of 174 at almost a run a ball between skipper Mushfiqur and Anamul rescued the Tigers from the shaky position of 21 for two. Star opener Tamim Iqbal could not continue his red-hot streak of form as he was first out, caught off Russell on the square-leg boundary. But the duo of Mushfiqur and Anamul brushed the setback aside as they crafted a smart partnership, picking the gaps with ease and punishing everything loose.
Mushfiqur scored 79 off 87 balls with eight fours and a six. His departure with the score on 195 was followed by a rare single-digit score by Nasir Hossain, but that brought to the wicket talented newcomer Mominul Haque, playing his second match and his first innings. Anamul approached his century with caution, but once reached with a single in the 47th over he opened up, scoring 20 off his last seven balls before being caught on the fine-leg fence to give Ravi Rampaul his fifth wicket. Anamul hit 13 fours and two sixes.
That brought to the middle Mashrafe, who hit two massive sixes in the last over bowled by Samuels to take the score to 292. In a perfect display of powerful batsmanship Anamul, Mominul and Mashrafe plundered 68 runs in the last five overs, including three fours and six sixes.
Bangladesh will be looking to seal the series in the third ODI, scheduled to take place in Dhaka's Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Wednesday.