The world called it the mother of all miracles when little Bangladesh beat the mighty Australians in Cardiff in 2005. Twelve years later, in a toe-to-toe battle with New Zealand at the same ground, Bangladesh staged a comeback for the ages, winning by five wickets after getting nearly blown away by their pace attack. The stunning turnaround was scripted courtesy Bangladesh’s highest stand for any wicket in ODI cricket between centurions Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah who added 224 at over a run a ball after their side had been reduced to 33 for 4 chasing 266.
All of Bangladesh will now back England to beat Australia or pray for a washout in Edgbaston for Bangladesh to reach the Champions Trophy semi-finals in their return to the tournament after 11 years.
Bangladesh fought very well with the ball to restrict New Zealand to 265 for 8 in their 50 overs, but the pitch was two-paced and seemed dry, which could work to New Zealand’s advantage as both teams look to win to stay alive in the tournament.
Bangladesh’s best figures came from offspinner Mosaddek Hossain, who Mashrafe Mortaza introduced in the 42nd over. The plan might have been to bowl him only for an over but the part-timer conceded just five runs and was given a second over. That proved to be an inspired move, as Mosaddek removed Neil Broom and then Corey Anderson first ball, before having James Neesham stumped as New Zealand’s middle and lower order slipped.
The late wobble had a lot to do with the drying up of the boundaries: New Zealand just struck five fours in the last 10 overs, in which they could muster just 62 runs, losing four wickets in total.
Apart from Mosaddek’s three, Taskin Ahmed took two wickets while there was one each for Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman – his first strike in the tournament. Taskin and Rubel gave the early breakthroughs and bowled well towards the end. Mustafizur conceded 34 in his first five overs but then gave away just 18 runs in his last four, that despite his second spell coming in the death overs. Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe bowled well as well, though they went wicketless.
New Zealand had made a bustling start with Martin Guptill and Luke Ronchi sprinting away with plenty of boundaries in the first five overs. Guptill edged one wide of slip in the first over, but then he timed it well through square on the off side. He slammed Mashrafe over long-off for a six that landed outside the ground, while Ronchi hammered a wide delivery for four.
Soon enough though, Taskin, making his first Champions Trophy appearance, removed Ronchi with a delivery that got big on him as he tried to pull him. The ball popped to mid-on and Mustafizur Rahman took a comfortable catch.
Kane Williamson, with scores of 100 and 87 coming into this game, started off with two sweetly timed fours past point and down the ground. But Rubel built pressure on Guptill through dot balls, and then had him lbw in the 13th over. He had struck five boundaries in his 35-ball 33.
But with the arrival of Ross Taylor came stability. He started off with two straight-driven fours before lapping Shakib Al Hasan past fine leg. Stability primarily came through plenty of singles, but Bangladesh bowled well in phases too. In the 25th over, Williamson reached his third consecutive fifty-plus score in the competition.
The partnership ended in the 30th over through a mix-up; it was Williamson’s call but there wasn’t a run in it, and Taylor was not interested in the run resulting in a mess. Mosaddek Hossain’s throw was wide but Shakib acrobatically broke the stumps, Williamson falling for 57 off 69 balls.
The 83-run third-wicket stand was followed up by a 49-run fourth wicket partnership between Taylor and Neil Broom. Taylor reached his fifty off 67 balls before falling for 63 in the 39th over; his attempted ramp was outdone by Taskin’s leg-cutter and was caught at short-fine leg. Neesham then struck three fours but New Zealand in general continued to find it hard to swing off their hips as Bangladesh’s bowling effectively denied them room.
However, New Zealand might see their late struggle with the bat as something to be not too disappointed about if the pitch indeed turns out to be as tricky to bat on as that seemed to suggest.