Bangladesh served a reminder of their growing strength at home by giving India some nervous moments but the visitors rode a decent batting performance first up to prevent a clean sweep. Had Bangladesh won, they would have been only the sixth team after Australia, England, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Pakistan to have whitewashed three ODI series in a row. But for now, they will have to be content with having upended Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
Forecast of rain prompted Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza to choose to bowl but India were far more cautious this time. Fifties by Shikhar Dhawan and captain MS Dhoni set them up for a better finish as they scored 50 runs in the last five overs, setting Bangladesh a record 318 to win their 11th match in a row at home.
They came perilously close to achieving that. Soumya Sarkar gave the hosts a flying start though opener Tamim Iqbal was trapped leg before by Dhawal Kulkarni in the second over. The next over itself saw Sarkar lay into Stuart Binny, who replaced Ravindra Jadeja, for a flat six over mid-on followed by a boundary. He continued to take on Binny but Dhawal Kulkarni tricked him with a slower ball.
It revealed a lack of experience in handling such a challenging run chase. Bangladesh’s approach was all guts and bravado, lacking those partnerships where cutting out risky shots was necessary to sustain the chase. All India had to do was play the waiting game. The visitors’ bowling though wasn’t the most threatening all the time.
Umesh Yadav, in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, looked possessed in mindlessly digging the ball short. Once he bowled so short Dhoni didn’t even attempt to leap for the ball. Yadav was the most wayward too, forcing Dhoni to give him just four overs, in which he conceded 33 runs. Binny took the important wicket of Sabbir Rahman with a slower delivery but he was not impressive otherwise.
Kulkarni was the most crafty among the pacers, mixing up deliveries well on a pitch that was on the slower side. Like in the first match, Dhoni again didn’t give any of his pacers their full quota. In R Ashwin, Axar Patel and Suresh Raina, Dhoni had found the bowlers most capable of putting the brakes on Bangladesh. And that did it for India.
Real credit though should go to Dhoni and Dhawan for steadying India after Mustafizur Rahman unsettled them again by snaring Rohit Sharma for the third time in this series. They, along with Ambati Rayudu and Virat Kohli, stitched three consecutive partnerships of 75, 44, and 93 runs. Once India crossed 200 in the 36th over, it was apparent India would reach at least 300.