Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain, hailed his side's character after they claimed a thrilling nine-run victory over New Zealand in the fourth one-day international yesterday to earn their first series win against top-level opposition.
The tourists were set a competitive target of 242 in Mirpur to keep alive their hopes in the best-of-five series.
But man-of-the-match Shakib, who earlier scored a superb century, led an inspired bowling performance to give his side a 3-0 lead over with one match to play.
The captain, who ended with figures of three for 54, was quick to credit his players for the spirit shown in a contest that went to the final over thanks mostly to Kane Williamson’s 108.
“We played great cricket throughout the series and our guys showed their character when they needed to,” Shakib said. “In the bowling part, there were some critical moments but the boys held themselves together and finally got the result we needed.”
Shakib, however, did admit Williamson’s knock could have turned the game around, with the 20-year-old battling cramp to lead New Zealand’s heroic fight during the run-chase.
Shakib added: “The new guy [Williamson] came in and batted really well and he gave us a lot of thinking to do. He played our spinners exceptionally well so full credit to him.”
Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, was quick to congratulate their opponents on a successful series. “I think Bangladesh have played better than us in these first three games and they’ve deserved their victory,” he said.
“They’ve shown us how to play in these conditions. So tough luck but I suppose we look on Kane Williamson’s innings with a lot of fondness and he showed a lot of us how to bat in these conditions.”
He added: “I think everyone plays in the subcontinent a lot now and they should be able to adapt to the conditions better than we did. Unfortunately in all three games we put ourselves in tough positions.
“It’s something we need to rectify in the last game. It’s a must-win for us to restore a little bit of pride to our series.”
Elsewhere, Sachin Tendulkar, the India veteran, has returned to the top of the Test batsmen rankings for the first time since 2002 after his sparkling run of recent form.
Tendulkar’s man-of-the-match display in the second Test against Australia this week was enough to secure him the No 1 spot eight years after he last occupied it. The 37-year-old’s 214 and unbeaten 53 inspired India to a seven-wicket and secured a 2-0 series victory. He jumped from fourth to edge out Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara and compatriot Virender Sehwag at the top of the rankings.
South Africa’s Dale Steyn remains the leading Test bowler with England’s Graeme Swann second.
Top test batsmen
1. S Tendulkar (Ind) 891pts
2. K Sangakkara (SL) 874
3. V Sehwag (Ind) 819
4. S Chanderpaul (WI) 807
= M Jayawardene (SL) 807
6. J Kallis (SA) 791
7. G Smith (SA) 787
8. VVS Laxman (Ind) 767
9. R Taylor (NZ) 766
10. AB de Villiers (SA) 762