New Zealand pips Bangladesh in exciting finish
Ahmedabad: Bangladesh did a lot of things right against one a side billed as a favourite to lift the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup trophy, negotiating the New Zealand pace attack well on the way to becoming the first team in the tournament to bat a full 50 overs against it. As a result, Bangladesh put up a strong 288 for 7 after being asked to bat. Then it came out and dented New Zealand’s chase early, taking out Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson, the danger men. And, for a while there, New Zealand was pushed into a position it hadn’t been in for quite some time.
But New Zealand found reserves of strength when it mattered the most. There was the hero – Martin Guptill – who showed why he should never be discounted. Ross Taylor came to the fore as well, playing the valiant supporting role perfectly. And the middle order got that crucial time out in the middle. In the end, New Zealand won by three wickets with seven balls to spare, and it would be happy to have gotten over the line.
In doing so, New Zealand ensured it would qualify for the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup unbeaten, while Bangladesh, having sealed its spot in the knockouts with the victory against England, has to now gear up for a clash against India – the Pool B toppers – in the last eight.
For Bangladesh, Shakib Al Hasan had put in one of those performances with the ball that could have been a match-winning one on another day. His 4 for 55 included the wickets of the top three and Luke Ronchi. Nasir Hossain then chipped in with the late wicket of Corey Anderson as well. For those faint of heart, the last few overs would have been particularly nerve-wracking. Boundaries were traded for wickets, and till the penultimate over, it could have gone either way.
However, with 17 needed from 13 balls, Daniel Vettori launched Nasir for a massive six down the ground. Then, with nine needed off nine, Tim Southee stepped back and hammered Shakib over long-off before wrapping things up with a cut through point for four.
That Bangladesh put up a good total was largely due to Mahmudullah, who scored a second consecutive century. His 90-run stand with Soumya Sarkar for the third wicket formed the bedrock of the innings, and the 78-run stand with Sabbir Rahman, who scored a ballistic 23-ball 40, later added spice to the proceedings.
On the eve of the match, Bangladesh had made its intentions clear – target McCullum with spin and get him out early. They did that, opening the bowling with Shakib, who had both McCullum (8) and Williamson (1) dismissed in the fifth over. McCullum’s attempted heave wasn’t timed well and he was caught at long-off, while Williamson sliced one straight to cover, and New Zealand was 33 for 2.
Bangladesh had beaten England, and was ready to do it again. But New Zealand was not willing to budge so easily.
Guptill took charge. He had already claimed 16 runs off Shakib earlier on, but realising the need for circumspection, he slowed down. There were the occasional boundaries, but he largely kept the scoreboard ticking over with singles. Taylor, needing a big innings himself, was cautious as well.
And they ploughed away. The fifty-run stand was brought up. The total crossed the 100-run mark and Taylor brought up 5000 ODI runs – the fourth New Zealand player to do so. At the other end, Guptill was in his nineties. There was a bit of a scare for them as Guptill suddenly pulled up while running for a single – there was a lengthy period for treatment and it turned out he was suffering from cramps.
Guptill got up, dusted himself and carried on. He plonked a single and got to his century – his sixth in ODIs, off 88 balls. He didn’t last long after that though. Shakib was brought back into the attack, and that promptly got Bangladesh the breakthrough it craved. Guptill tried attacking him, but ended up finding Rubel Hossain at long on.
Grant Elliott swung his bat around, scoring a 34-ball 39 in a 46-run stand for the fourth wicket with Taylor, but hit one big shot too many and holed out to Rubel. When Taylor (56) then fell to Nasir, attempting to slog sweep but ending up trapped in front, New Zealand was in a bit of trouble at 219 for 5.
However, late mini-partnerships saw the side through. Anderson put on 28 with Ronchi and 22 with Vettori, while the Vettori-Southee stand of 21 finished things off.
Earlier, the Bangladesh batsmen were served up some spicy swing bowling. Boult, a phenomenon so far at this ICC Cricket World Cup, had both the openers walking back within four overs of each other, going through Imrul Kayes (2) before drawing an edge from Tamim Iqbal (13) that ended up with second slip.
But Sarkar and Mahmudullah kept New Zealand at bat. They hammered boundaries when they could, but didn’t get carried away. They picked singles and doubles and Sarkar brought up his maiden ODI half-century, in his sixth match, and looked good for more. He holed out soon after though, for a 58-ball 51, and Shakib departed for a 18-ball 23. Mushfiqur Rahim flayed his bat around but fell to Anderson, for a 25-ball 15.
But Mahmudullah finally found a steady partner in Sabbir and, thereafter, runs were racked up quickly enough. Mahmudullah shifted gears. There was an exquisite pull – a shot a he used to good effect all day – off Mitchell McClenaghan that ended over long leg for six, and he was soon in the 90s. Sabbir, meanwhile, took Southee for three fours in an over.
It took the pressure off Mahmudullah, who soon notched up his century. On reaching the landmark, he whipped his helmet out, made the heart sign with his hands and blew kisses to the crowd. It was a fine century, and thereafter, his appetite only increased, as he hit McClenaghan for three consecutive fours. Sabbir was sent back by Elliot though and, in retrospect, it possibly cost Bangladesh a few valuable runs late on.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]