Saleh ton seals Bangladesh 4-0

Rajin Saleh eclipsed the century mark for the first time in his one-day international career and guided Bangladesh to a 4-0 whitewash over Kenya with 108 not out. The opener’s unbeaten ton was central in a 7-wicket victory, after his team had lost three early wickets.

The innings was a controlled one. It lasted 113 balls and featured 16 fours, but took a little while to gather momentum. Bangladesh started off tentatively in their chase, with Shahriar Nafees (20), Aftab Ahmed (9), and Mohammad Ashraful (11) falling early. From a scoreboard reading of 62/3, the Kenyans fed their desire to scrap some pride from a disappointing series.

As Saleh grew in confidence though, he sapped the belief of his opponents. He was partnered by captain Habibul Bashar, then in a personal stretch of 20 innings without a half-century. They realized a partnership of 175 for the fourth wicket, batting well in tandem until the end.

In the typical mold of a captain’s knock, Bashar scored an unbeaten 64 from 88 balls. His rotation of the strike catered for Saleh’s expanding strokeplay, and his unselfish play was epitomized when he fed the strike to his partner to assist the search for a century. The result was a formality at that stage, with the winning runs coming soon after with 8.3 overs to spare.

Kenya had earlier elected to bat first, but the plan backfired early on behind a strong showing from the Bangladeshi bowlers. Mashrafe Mortaza, Syed Rasel and Shahadat Hossain strangled the top order and reduced the score to 28/2. Recovery came in the form of Hitesh Modi (35) and Steve Tikolo (81). Tikolo’s method of consolidation was to remain positive, and he handled the bowlers expertly, dispatching anything he considered loose.

The foil of Modi seemed ideal in an innings-high partnership of 95 for the second wicket. Bangladesh’s most experienced bowler was the one to make the crucial impact once again. Mohammad Rafique accounted for a dangerous Tikolo after dismissing Modi. A platform of 156/3 quickly became 164/6, but Collins Obuya (45) and Toni Suji (30) ensured it was not wasted away.

The resulting partnership of 54 came from only 40 balls, despite a minimal boundary effort by either party. With an eventual total of 232/9 behind their names, the Kenyans started positively in defence, but the energized unit of Bangladesh showed the marked improvement in their cricket over the past few months.

Kenya 233-9
Steve Tikolo 81, Collins Obuya 45
Mashrafe Mortaza 2-38, Abdur Razzak 2-51, Mohammad Rafique 2-57

Bangladesh 237-3
Rajin Saleh 108*, Habibul Bashar 64*
Peter Ongondo 1-20, Thomas Odoyo 1/30

Bangladesh won by 7 wickets.

Cricket Web’s Man of the Match: Rajin Saleh (Bangladesh – 108*)

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