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Bowlers, Shakib-Mahmudullah knock New Zealand out

Wisden India logo Wisden India 10-06-2017

© Press Association A magnificent batting display under extreme pressure from Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah gave Bangladesh a famous win against New Zealand in a thrilling Group B match of the Champions Trophy 2017, keeping their team alive in the tournament while the losers were knocked out.

The two cracked stunning centuries in putting together 224 runs in 34.5 overs, the highest ever stand for Bangladesh in One-Day Internationals. It was the third highest for the fifth wicket in all ODIs.

The five-wicket win on Friday (June 9) at Cardiff Wales Stadium meant that the whole of Bangladesh will be praying for England, the tournament favourites, to beat the old enemies Australia on Saturday, which will put Bangladesh in the semifinals of the tournament, the furthest they would have ever gone in an ICC event.

Bangladesh vs New Zealand: Full scorecard

There were officially 6073 in attendance on the day – and it seemed like 6070 were Bangladesh fans. Shakib made 114 off 115 before losing his stumps when just nine were needed for victory. Shakib had got to his hundred by hooking the ball over fine-leg. After he was out, Mahmudullah ensured the cheers wouldn’t die down by getting there with a heave to the square leg fence. In the end he remained not out on 102 off 107.

It was at this very venue almost exactly 12 years ago – on June 18, 2005 – that a Mohammad Ashraful century had given Bangladesh a shock win over Australia. The only survivor from that side who played on Friday was the man who will bask in all the glory of the win as the captain of the Bangladesh side now. Mashrafe Mortaza is no longer the lean, fit, quick young man he was in 2005, but what he has lost in youth he has made for up in wisdom, and he marshalled his bowling attack superbly to keep New Zealand to 265 for 8.

A fired up trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Adam Milne then reduced Bangladesh to 12 for 3, and then 33 for 4, but that was when Shakib and Mahmudullah put together what was not just a match-defining stand, but potentially historic for Bangladesh. When they began, Bangladesh were under the pump and not even their most ardent fan was thinking of victory. They ended by making New Zealand look ragged in the bowling and the field, a mark of how well they had controlled the chase.

Champions Trophy 2017: Full coverage

Shakib walked out in the fifth over, with New Zealand’s pacers giving nothing away and having the batsmen on the hop. He weathered that phase, and when Mahmudullah joined him, the two seamlessly shifted gears in a stunning counter-attack. True, Southee and Boult were no longer operating, but given the situation and the pressure, it still required extraordinary courage and self-belief to take on James Neesham. The 19th over of the innings saw Mahmudullah hit a six and a four of Neesham, and from then on, the two batsmen batted as if they were the opening pair, rather than the last recognised one.

New Zealand didn’t know quite what hit them, as the Champions Trophy got what is undoubtedly its best partnership, consigning the Danushka Gunathilaka-Kusal Mendis stand to second place in just 24 hours. Both men found the boundary at will as the stand progressed, always keeping the required run-rate within lassoing distance. That New Zealand sent down 18 wides showed just how rattled the bowlers got as the stand progressed.

Earlier, Taskin Ahmed (2 for 43) and Mosaddek Hossain (3 for 13) had taken the lead in restricting New Zealand. Taskin bowled with fire whenever he was given the ball, accounting for Luke Ronchi first up and Ross Taylor at a critical moment in the 39thover. Mosaddek’s offspin was introduced only in the 42nd over, but his changes of pace and clever bowling meant all of Neil Broom, Neesham and Corey Anderson fell to him.

It was a familiar story for New Zealand, with Kane Williamson the only shining star. The captain made 57 off 69, but once he fell, the brittle middle order that has been New Zealand’s problem throughout the tournament failed to step up again. Ross Taylor’s 63 was the highest score of the innings, but he took up a fairly chunky 82 balls and had the lowest strike rate amongst the top six batsmen.

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Martin Guptill and Ronchi had begun well for New Zealand, putting on 46 runs before Ronchi was caught off Taskin in the first ball of the eighth over. Guptill, who had hit Mortaza over the sightscreen, got off to a good start for the third time in the tournament, but once again he couldn’t stay on to convert it to a bigger score. He was one among five men to get more than 20, but none of them converted it to something more substantial.

At various points, New Zealand had been very well placed to think in terms of a 300-plus total. They were 144 for 2 in 27 overs, and 198 for 3 in 38 overs. Even at 228 for 4 in 43 overs, they could have thought they would touch 300, but Bangladesh’s bowlers maintained excellent discipline. They didn’t get over-excited or mix good spells with bad, and didn’t lose heart even when New Zealand seemed to be going well. What that meant was New Zealand ended up with a total that was somewhat fewer than needed. New Zealand defended their below-par total tigershily. But in the end, it was the team that calls themselves The Tigers who found the depth and resilience to come out on top.

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