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5th T20I: New Zealand fight hard to salvage pride after Bangladesh took home series

New Zealand defeated hosts Bangladesh by 27 runs in the fifth and final T20I match of the series to limit the series to a 3-2 result. The hots already had an unassailable lead in the series after winning the fourth game of the series and the win by Blackcaps could only salvage their pride leading up to an important series against Pakistan and ICC World T20 due in a month’s time.

Chasing a target of 162 runs which appeared a steep one considering the nature of pitches used in the series, the hosts got off to a sluggish start and lost Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar just when they were looking to get a move on. The duo was eliminated by the spin twins of Blackcaps—Ajaz Patel and Cole McConchie, who have been ripping their spinning deliveries in the series.

Even before the hosts could gather some momentum after the loss of Sarkar and Das, they lost the big wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim, who has had a disappointing series with the bat. Bangladesh lost four big wickets in the space of 27 balls while they could muster only 20 runs in the same period.

The momentum was never with them, but Afif Hossain swung his bat around valiantly to lead the counterattack. He and the skipper Mahmudullah forged a rapid partnership of 53 runs from just seven overs to put the hosts back on track.

However, as soon as Mahmudullah fell to Scott Kuggeleijn, the lower-order could not stand up to rescue the hosts and Afif was left stranded at one end just one run shy of his half-century.

Earlier, New Zealand skipper Tom Latham won the toss and elected to bat first on what promised to be a decent batting track. The openers Fin Allen and Rachin Ravindra provided them with a fantastic start and took the team past the 50-run mark inside the mandatory powerplay. 

However, their innings too suffered a stutter as wickets kept on falling at regular intervals. After the fall of Ravindra and Allen, Will Young and Collin de Grandhomme failed as well to leave the skipper Latham scrambling in the middle.

He got support from the experienced Henry Nicholls and the duo carried the Blackcaps past the 100-run mark. Skipper Latham brought up a well-compiled half-century of 32 balls with the help of two fours and as many sixes but he could not provide a rollicking finish to the Blackcaps and that job was well done by Cole McConchie, who smashed a 10-ball 17 to take the Blackcaps past the 160-run mark and put enormous pressure on the hosts.

New Zealand were found out in the conditions stacked heavily in the favour of spin bowlers but they did not fail to adapt as their Trans-Tasman rivals Australia did earlier. They were made to work hard for the runs and wins but the two wins and strong fight they have put on in the series would have given welcome signs of depth and talent in the squad going forward to the two T20 World Cups.

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