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Bangladesh go ballistic to take ODI series with a nine-wicket drubbing of South Africa

242015 is for Bangladesh cricket what 1971 was for its independence-loving people.

It was early Eid for 160 million people as Bangladesh ushered in a new dawn in their cricketing history with a nine-wicket win over South Africa at Chittagong on Wednesday.

With three back-to-back ODI series wins at home against Pakistan, India and now South Africa, the Tigers turned the summer of 2015 into the most glorious period in the nation’s sporting history.

They also broke from the past of never winning a series after losing first game.

Having lost the first ODI to South Africa tamely, the Tigers fought back convincingly in the second ODI to level the series after they had whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 and India 2-1.

But Bangladesh’s brilliant opening pair reduced the third ODI to a one-sided affair as they chased down South Africa’s 168 for 9 in a rain-scarred match reduced to 40 overs in Chittagong’s Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

Man-of-the-Match Soumya Sarkar (90 off 75 balls) was undoubtedly the hero of the Bangladesh win, ably supported by his senior partner Tamim Iqbal (61 off 77).

He fell trying to reach his century in a hurry but by then Bangladesh had the match in their pocket.

Tamim and Liton Kumar Das easily saw the Tigers through a comfortable nine-wicket win to lift the third ODI series.

Das heaved leg-spinner Imran Tahir over midwicket for the winning runs as the roof came off the stadium.

The Soumya-Tamim 154-run opening stand, their third century partnership, was the highest partnership by a Bangladesh pair against South Africa.

That it comes after his scintillating 88 in a 135-run stand with Mahmudullah that helped the Tigers to a comfortable victory in the second ODI at Mirpur to level the series heralds the advent of a new star in the horizon.

That Soumya, like Bangladesh new bowling hero Mustafizur Rahman, is also from Satkhira marks the beginning of a new era in the country’s cricket with most top players now hailing from small towns and even rural outbacks.

On Wednesday, Soumya looked in complete control as he toyed with the Proteas attack by playing shots all round the wicket.