Bangladesh will be the side in Group A keeping an anxious eye on proceedings at Edgbaston on Saturday. Their spectacular defeat of New Zealand by five wickets means they will play in the semi-final in Birmingham on 15 June if England beat Australia or – and let no one wish for this – the rain ruins that game, bringing about another no result.
The architects of a scintillating victory were two of the old stalwarts of Bangladesh cricket, Shakib al-Hasan and Mahmudullah, both of whom hit brilliant centuries from a seemingly hopeless situation. They conjured a record stand for Bangladesh against any side anywhere: 224 precious runs from 219 balls. Theirs was a stunning, characterful union that had Bangladesh’s supporters finding their voice as victory became a possibility and becoming hoarse when it was almost a formality as Shakib cut loose like D’Artagnan with the finishing line in sight.
With Bangladesh tottering on 33 for four in pursuit of 266 for victory a Kiwi mauling was imminent. Tim Southee had wrecked the Bangladesh upper order with a devastating opening burst that accounted for Tamim Iqbal, the mainstay in earlier games, Sabbir Rahman and Soumya Sarkar before the fifth over was complete.
Trent Boult was almost as dangerous as the Kiwis found a ball that was prepared to swing just a fraction in the opening overs. He found the edge of Mushfiqur Rahman’s bat but Ross Taylor at slip could not quite hold on to a tester. No matter; Mushfiqur was soon clean bowled by Adam Milne.
Shakib had been looking on, seemingly phlegmatic though frequently discomforted by the excellence of New Zealand’s three-pronged attack. However it is only a three-pronged attack. When Williamson had to look elsewhere for his bowlers Mahmudullah bedded in alongside Shakib and batting suddenly became feasible. This pair has played 320 ODIs between them so they knew what to do. They bided their time against the key Kiwi triumvirate and then expertly gleaned their runs against the rest. By the end they mastered all the bowlers.
The New Zealand innings of 265 for eight was a scratchy affair. The solitary six, a cleanly struck off drive by Martin Guptill off Mashrafe Mortaza, hinted at the usual 21st-century mayhem. But it never materialised.
After the departure of the openers Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor batted as if they had very little confidence in the men to follow and maybe their misgivings were justified since the Kiwi lower order would perform no better here than in their previous games. Williamson and Taylor accumulated like old pros; singles would do interspersed by the odd boundary.
Together they added 83, the highest partnership of the innings, enabling the Kiwis to reach 150 for two by the 30th over. Then Williamson displayed a rare moment of impatience. This did not come about via a false stroke, but an injudicious call.
No doubt the Kiwi captain wanted some acceleration. Taylor flicked the ball straight to Mossadek Hossain at short fine-leg and Williamson set off. Taylor, understandably, was not very interested and Williamson became another leader, who felt compelled to execute a fatal U-turn. Mossadek’s throw was not ideal but Shakib gathered it deftly.
This was the third time in four ODI innings that Williamson has been run out. He joins the ranks, which include his fellow Kiwi, John Wright, and Geoffrey Boycott, of those who are great technicians yet scatterbrain runners.
After Williamson’s departure Neil Broom and Taylor, who top-scored with an old-fashioned 63 from 82 balls, added 49 together but the tail could not wag. Only 62 runs came from the final 10 overs with Mossadek snaring three for 13 from his three overs of skidding off-breaks. Bangladesh were pleased with their efforts in the field; they were cock-a-hoop when Mahmudullah walked triumphantly from the field. (Courtesy The Guardian)