Soumya Sarkar blasted a maiden ODI hundred and put on 145 with Tamim Iqbal as Bangladesh wrapped up a 3-0 series whitewash in emphatic fashion. They won by eight wickets, with more than 10 overs to spare, but such a margin was only possible because of a spectacular collapse from Pakistan.
Azhar Ali's 101, the first ODI century by a Pakistan captain in nearly five years, and his stands of 91 and 98 with Sami Aslam and Haris Sohail had taken Pakistan to 203 for 2 in the 39th over. They looked all set for a dash to a 300-plus total, but they lost their last eight wickets for 47 runs and set a distinctly below-par target of 251.
If it was going to test Bangladesh, they would need to lose early wickets, and Tamim seemed determined not to let that happen. Even as Sarkar picked up four fours in the first four overs, Tamim played watchfully, defending Mohammad Hafeez - who took the new ball upon his return from a bowling suspension - with a resolutely straight bat and shouldering arms to the first three balls he received from Umar Gul.
He put away the bad balls, but had only played six scoring shots in scoring 12 off his first 25 balls. By that time Sarkar had raced to 33 off 35, and Bangladesh were a solid 48 for 0 in 10 overs. By the end of the 17th over, the score had swelled to 86. Hafeez returned to the attack, and spun one sharply away from Sarkar to find the edge of his defensively thrust bat, only for Mohammad Rizwan - who had taken the gloves after Pakistan left out Sarfraz Ahmed - to put down the chance behind the stumps.
Sarkar had added four more runs to his score and moved to 52 when he pressed forward to the left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar and inside-edged him onto his pad. The ball bounced over Aslam's head at short leg - he got both hands to it but couldn't hold on.
As if to drive home the importance of those two misses, both batsmen hit sixes off the next over, Sarkar launching Hafeez over long-on and Tamim over cover. Over the next three overs Bangladesh pressed home their point further. Babar gave away five fours, including a paddle sweep that took Tamim to his fifty, and in between Sarkar ran down the track to Junaid Khan and clouted him over his head.
Junaid went for 27 in his first four overs, but brought Pakistan a small measure of relief with two wickets in two overs. He seamed one into the left-handed Tamim to ping his pad right in front of off stump, and jagged one into the right-handed Mahmudullah to bowl him through the gate.
It was only momentary respite. Mushfiqur Rahim, who has been in sublime form since the start of the World Cup, dabbed the third ball of Junaid's next over cleverly past slip, and Sarkar ended the over with two flat-batted fours down the ground.
There was little left in it for Pakistan, and Azhar brought himself on to bowl the 34th over, and deliver the long-hop that Sarkar clumped over deep midwicket to bring up his first ODI century. It was a strangely appropriate moment.
For the first 40 overs of the match it had been Azhar's turn to hog the limelight with his own maiden hundred. For that duration Pakistan had shown promise for the future. Aslam, the 19-year-old opener, made 45 on his ODI debut, driving through the covers with a fluent, left-handed flourish and pulling confidently when the bowlers dropped short. Replacing Sarfraz, Aslam barely put a foot wrong in his 50-ball innings before a sharply bouncing offbreak from Nasir Hossain brushed his bottom thumb through to the keeper.
Haris, who came in after Hafeez had slogged all around an Arafat Sunny arm ball, picked up most of his runs through nudges and nurdles off his pads, but he also stepped down the track and struck the spinners for two heart-in-the-mouth sixes - one just out of reach of deep midwicket, one just out of reach of long-on.
Azhar's innings showcased the same strengths he has displayed right through this series. He put away the short balls with clinical placement, easily finding the gap between point and third man with his square cut. Perhaps more importantly, he rotated the strike well, failing to score off only 49 out of 112 balls. It's been a trend right through the series.
Azhar didn't play the World Cup, in which Pakistan often played on challenging pitches, so a direct comparison with the batsmen who did may not be entirely accurate. Nonetheless, it must mean something that Azhar is the only Pakistan batsman with a dot-ball percentage below 50 among the six who have faced 150 balls this year. Ahmed Shehzad, the batsman he replaced, is at the opposite end of that list at 64.79.
Azhar reached his century in the 38th over, and his partnership with Haris was nearing the century mark, when an arm-ball from Shakib turned the tide completely. Azhar went back to cut and lost his off stump. An over later, Haris was gone too, swiping across the line of a slower ball from Mashrafe Mortaza. The deluge began, and some of the dismissals were inexplicable.
Like Haris, Fawad slogged across the line at Mashrafe. Wahab Riaz and Saad Nasim picked out fielders in the 30-yard circle with half-hearted attempts at big hits. Rizwan popped a return catch to Shakib, looking to work across the line of a slow back-of-a-length ball.
In his first series as ODI captain, playing the format after nearly two years out of the side, Azhar has seen Pakistan lose their first series to Bangladesh. Now, even the consolation of a decent total in a dead rubber was slipping away.