Shahriar Nafees struck a fluent unbeaten 90 while Mohammad Ashraful signalled his return to form with 64 not out as Bangladesh avenged their 2007 World Cup loss to Ireland with a convincing eight-wicket win in Mirpur. More importantly for Bangladesh, it was their first ODI victory after a run of 14 losses and the under-fire Ashraful's first as captain.
Bangladesh were off to a blazing start with Tamim Iqbal blasting two successive boundaries through the covers off seamer Kevin O'Brien. Nafees, after picking a couple of runs off the first delivery that he faced, cut Dave Langford-Smith past point to get his innings going. Langford-Smith drew first blood for Ireland in the fifth over, as Tamim sliced the ball to Greg Thompson at point. Nafees did not let that affect his intent, striking three fours in a single over bowled by Langford-Smith, who, despite an early wicket, struggled to maintain a consistent line.
This was a much needed win for the Tigers following a disappointing showing against South Africa earlier this month. The two countries return to Shere Bangla National Stadium on Thursday for the second in the three match series.
This victory should come as both a relief for the Tigers as well as a matter of pride. In the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Ireland eliminated Bangladesh in the Super Eights round after a series of impressive Bangladesh victories. Defeating Ireland so soundly yesterday had to feel good.