New Zealand 210 for 3 (Conway 92*, Young 53, Nasum 2-30) beat Bangladesh 144 for 8 (Afif 45, Saifuddin 34*, Sodhi 4-28, Ferguson 2-25) by 66 runs
Devon Conway smashed an unbeaten 92 off 52 balls and Will Young struck a half-century on debut before Ish Sodhi ran through Bangladesh’s middle order to give New Zealand a 66-run win in the first T20I in Hamilton.
Continuing his purple patch, Conway struck 11 fours and three sixes as Young and he added 103 in 60 balls for the third wicket to propel New Zealand to 210 for 3. Bangladesh started their chase briskly but were soon reduced to 59 for 6 as Sodhi picked up 4 for 28. A 63-run stand between Afif Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin for the seventh wicket only reduced the margin of the defeat.
Debuts to remember, debuts to forget
Finn Allen had topped the batting charts in Super Smash 2020-21, scoring 512 runs at an average of 56.88 and strike rate of 193.93. A day after his side Wellington won the tournament, he was called as a standby in New Zealand’s T20I squad. Soon after, the Royal Challengers Bangalore picked him as a replacement player for IPL 2021. Then he got a gig with Lancashire for the T20 Blast. Now he was making his T20I debut.
Bowling to him was another debutant: left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed. Unlike Allen, he had moderate returns of 12 wickets from 27 T20s before this game. Opening the bowling, Ahmed started with four dots to Guptill before miscued single brought Allen on strike. And voila, Ahmed bowled Allen for a first-ball duck as the ball skidded through the gap between bat and bat and hit the top of the leg stump. Ahmed had a wicket in his first over, Allen a first-ball duck. Nasum later dismissed Matin Guptill, caught at long-off for 27-ball 35, to finish with figures of 2 for 30.
The other two debutants in the match had contrasting fortunes as well. Coming in at 53 for 2 in the seventh over, Young looked in no trouble against any bowler. Exhibiting a free flow of the arms, he hit two four and four sixes and brought up his fifty off just 28 balls as Conway and he took the game away from Bangladesh.
Left-arm seamer Shoriful Islam, one of Bangladesh’s stars at their 2020 U-19 World Cup win, had a day to forget. Guptill, playing his 100th T20I, flicked the youngster’s first ball in international cricket for four before Conway hit two more boundaries in the same over. Shoriful ended with 4-0-50-0, the worst figures for a Bangladesh bowler on debut.
No stopping for Conway
Before coming into this game, Conway had five scores of 50-plus in 12 international innings. There was no stopping for him once again as he showed his full range. Apart from playing proper cricketing shots, Conway didn’t hesitate to charge down against seamers or reverse-sweep spinners.
In the 15th over, Conway slog-swept Nasum towards deep-backward square leg, where Shoriful caught the ball right at the boundary. The fielder was confident his foot wasn’t touching the boundary line but the third umpire couldn’t spot any gap between his foot and the boundary skirting and ruled it a six. That took Conway to his fifty, off 37 deliveries.
The two shots that stood out came in the final two overs. Saifuddin went full and wide in the 19th over. Conway went down on one knee and opened the face of the bat to launch it over point for six. Then in the final over, he reverse-scooped Mustafizur Rahman over short third man, with the ball almost carrying all the way. In all, he scored 47 runs behind the stumps.
Bangladesh crumble in the chase
It was the first time since 2006 that Bangladesh were playing an international match without Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, the latter missing out because of a shoulder injury. That left a void too big to fill as Bangladesh’s batsmen crumbled against Sodhi.
Mohammad Naim started the chase with three fours in the first seven balls of the innings. Liton Das too opened his account with a four against Tim Southee but it went all downhill from there as Das holed out to mid-on on the very next ball. Soon after, Lockie Ferguson trapped Naim lbw with a fuller delivery.
Sodhi dented Bangladesh further in the last over of the powerplay, removing Soumya Sarkar with a brilliant one-handed caught-and-bowled before castling Mohammad Mithun with a googly. If Bangladesh were hoping for recovery, that wasn’t to be. In Sodhi’s next over, Mahmudullah went for a cut only to chop it back onto his stumps. On the next ball, Mahedi Hasan played on a googly. Saifuddin avoided the hat-trick but the fate of the game was sealed.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo