Dhaka: Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim Sunday hailed his team's hard-fought series win over the West Indies as the country's "biggest" ever given the absence of talismanic all-rounder Shakil Al Hasan. Bangladesh held their nerves to clinch the deciding fifth and final one-day in Dhaka on Saturday by two wickets for a 3-2 series win, their second over the West Indies in three years.
"We were missing a big performer in this series," said Rahim of Shakib's absence, Bangladesh's best performer in recent seasons who had been laid low by a shin injury. "So it became a huge challenge for us. I would say that this is the biggest win for us," Rahim added.
Bangladesh won the first match by seven wickets and the second by their biggest margin of 160 runs - both in Khulna. The West Indies staged a comeback by winning the next two matches in Dhaka to level the series at 2-2. Rahim said the manner in which they had played during their 2-0 Test series defeat had suggested the team was improving.
The Bangladesh captain said it was commendable that the team won without the dangerous Shakib Al Hasan.
"We deserved to win this one-day series, judging by our performance since the Tests and our cricket skills. We would have at least drawn that first Test had we not made some mistakes.
"We didn't bat and field well in the third and fourth one-days, though we bowled very well. In the final match our only plan was to get it right in all three departments and that we did," said Rahim.
Bangladesh restricted the West Indies to 217 in 48 overs in the final match and then overcame early hiccups to chase down the target with six overs to spare.Rahim (44) added an invaluable 91 for the fourth wicket with Mohammad Mahmudullah (48) to set the home team on the victory path. Rahim said young players took the responsibility well throughout the series.
"In the final game, we told everyone that we have to make sure we give 100 percent effort and all the young players took responsibility and handled the pressure well," said Rahim.
West Indian captain Darren Sammy accepted the West Indies were below par. "We didn't play our best cricket in this series but we still were in with a chance to win the series. I would never blame anyone. We have to pull together as a team. It is not every day that the same people will perform," said Sammy.
For the tourists, dashing opener Chris Gayle was a major disappointment, managing just 72 runs in five matches while Kieron Pollard was at his best in only the last game, scoring 85. Despite the series loss, Sammy said his team had a good year. "This has been a good year for us. We won four Tests in a row and the T20 World Cup," said Sammy of his team's win in Sri Lanka in October.
"We would have loved to win this series but we didn't. When we look back at this year, I wouldn't say it is a step backward. We played as well," said Sammy.