Mahmudullah, Rubel seal Bangladesh thrilling 15-run victory over England
Ahmedabad / Adelaide Oval: Rubel Hossain. The toast of Bangladesh, the hero of a stunning conquest of England. Two wickets in three deliveries in a tense finish, sealing a memorable 15-run win that secured Bangladesh’s place in the quarterfinal of the World Cup and consigned England to early elimination.
On March 9 (Monday) at the Adelaide Oval, there was no full house, but there was no lack of atmosphere as nearly 12,000 fans were treated to wonderful entertainment in a match of yo-yoing fortunes.
Bangladesh sensed an opportunity to make it to the knockout stages of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 for the first ever time. England, battling to stay alive in the competition, would just not go away. In the end, a maiden century by Mahmudullah – also the first by a Bangladeshi in World Cups – and his record 141-run fifth-wicket stand with Mushfiqur Rahim counted for as much as Rubel’s 4 for 53.
Bangladesh’s 275 for 7 upon being put in seemed sufficient at various stages, but England, 132 for 5 and 238 for 8, somehow dug deep to stay in the hunt till the very end. That end came when Rubel cleaned up Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the space of three deliveries in the penultimate over as England was bowled out for 260, triggering scenes of jubilation in the middle and in the stands. Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes took England to the brink with a counter-attacking stand of 75 for the seventh, but Bangladesh prevailed.
Earlier, England put together stands of 43 and 54 for the first two wickets with Ian Bell the constant. Alex Hales, drafted in ahead of Gary Ballance, showed intent, but when Bell was cleaned up by a Rubel beauty, England suffered a wobble.
Eoin Morgan fell in the same over, expertly caught on the pull by Shakib Al Hasan, and James Taylor too fell, so that England lost 3 for 11 in 22 deliveries. At 132 for 5 in the 30th, their hopes rested with Joe Root and Buttler; Root didn’t deliver, but Buttler served up a sumptuous meal, an innings that was riveting from ball one.
In Woakes he found the ideal ally. With Mashrafe Mortaza having bowled himself out by the 40th over in the quest for wickets, Bangladesh was a little handicapped at the death. England needed 95 in the last 10; with Woakes matching his more accomplished colleague almost stroke for regal stroke and the duo electric between the wickets, the target began to appear less and less daunting.
But the twists and turns just continued to flow freely. Having done all the hard work, Buttler wafted at Taskin with victory 38 runs away, and Chris Jordan was adjudged run out first ball, the third umpire deeming that the bat had bounced up in the air as he tried to regain his ground and Shakib scored a direct hit.
In all the tension, Tamim Iqbal put down Woakes at long-on with 20 required, but it didn’t matter. Rubel was there to apply the finishing touches, Bangladesh primed now for a March 19 date with India at the MCG.
The obvious stars of the Bangladesh batting were Mahmudullah and Rahim, married to sisters, but no less crucial was the role of Soumya Sarkar, the young left-hand batsman. Sarkar unveiled the early flourish alongside a solid, stolid Mahmudullah to repel England, who threatened to run away with the game through Anderson.
Relishing the pitch having sweated under the covers – it drizzled at various stages through the morning though by the toss the clouds had lost the battle to the sun – Anderson looked like the master swing bowler that he is. Feasting on the hesitancy of Tamim and Imrul Kayes, Anderson elicited outside edges from both openers into the slip cordon so that inside the first 13 deliveries of the match, Bangladesh had slipped to 8 for 2.
Another wicket at that stage would have left Bangladesh in serious strife. England, charged up, came hard, but Sarkar and Mahmudullah remained unruffled. As the pitch settled down, Sarkar stood up tall and hit crisply through the off side off front foot and back during a stabilising stand of 86 in which the more experienced Mahmudullah was content to play within himself.
Against the run of play, Jordan produced a sharp lifter that saw off Sarkar, and for the second time in the innings, Bangladesh lost two in quick succession when Moeen Ali accounted for the big fish. Shakib walked out to huge cheers from a decidedly pro-Bangladesh crowd, but lasted only six deliveries, leaving his team at 99 for 4.
The first objective of the fifth-wicket pair, with nearly 30 overs remaining, was to ensure that there was no further immediate damage. That was accomplished with no little success. Apart from the occasional meaty blow, Mahmudullah was again content working the gaps, leaving Rahim to take on the role of the enforcer.
The pair was fully in command and rattled the English players. Mahmudullah eventually fell after his century in the only likely way, run out as tiredness caught up with him, but by then he had showcased the adhesiveness that allowed Rahim to take on an attacking role. Rahim continued to bat with impunity before becoming Stuart Broad’s first victim since England’s opening game against Australia. But by then, he had done his bit.