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Cornered Tigers packed Kiwis back home

Saleque Sufi

ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Bangladesh Vs New Zealand Played at Sophia Garden, Cardiff, New Zealand 265/8 (LRPL Taylor 63, KS Williamson 57, NT Broom 36, MJ Guptill 33, Mosaddek Hossain 3/13, Taskin Ahmed 2/43) Lost to Bangladesh 268/5 (Shakib Al Hasan 114, Mahmudullah Riyad 102*, TG Southee 3/45) by 5 wickets.

Two great news came from UK today. In the morning we were delighted hearing three proud Bangladeshi UK girls Tulip Siddique, Roshan Ara and Rupa Huq got re –elected into British parliament.

Also Read - All three hundreds special to Mahmudullah

And at early morning here in Brisbane, Australia, we have eye witnessed on Television yet another amazing Bangladesh victory in ODI Cricket – cornered Bengal Tigers chased the Kiwis fly back home from Cardiff.

In a do or die match Bangladesh were stuttering at 33/4 responding to 265/8 posted by New Zealand after batting first on a double paced tricky wicket. Never say die, fearless Tigers riding on a spectacular counter attacking milestone setting 224 runs 5th wicket partnership between sizzling Shakib and majestic Mahmudullah handed over return ticket back home to New Zealand from the group of death.

Bangladesh won by 5 wickets. With 3 points from 3 matches Bangladesh is now second in points table behind leading England.

On Saturday, host England plays Australia. There are three possible results – an English win, Australia win or a rain interfered point sharing. Bangladesh would play in the semi -final of ICC Champions trophy unless Australia wins.

12 years from now, in Cardiff, when another marvelous Bangladesh performance saw team Tigers winning against mighty Australians it was considered a major upset. Last evening in the same venue when team Tigers again knocked out strong New Zealand, it was the more competent team who emerged as winners under the leadership of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.

He himself bowled well, changed his bowling with intelligence, and took a masterpiece decision of giving his part time off spinner Mosaddek bowling successfully in the last power play. His team restricted Kiwis to 265/8 in allotted overs by superb bowling and fielding.

The wicket was a little double paced. When Bangladesh started chasing the condition changed dramatically. For the first time in the tournament, ball started swinging in the air and seaming off the wicket. Tim Southee and Trent Boult are top operators in such conditions.

Southee delivered three special deliveries removing Tamim, Sabbir and Soumya for only 12 on board. Reliable Mushfiqur was also picked up soon by Milne by another good delivery. Tigers were cornered at 33/4.

Shakib Al Hasan was joined at the wicket by Mahmudullah Riyad. Bangladesh had to fight back to the back to salvage the team from near ruins. From then on what happened may sound fairy tale in cricket.

The two proceeded smoothly rotating strikes and punishing bad deliveries striking eye catching strikes across the boundaries or over and above it. They proceeded hands in hand matching strokes for strokes. Both however were passing through a bad patch.

Considered from the duo’s prolific records, their Champions trophy so far was pretty ordinary. But on this day on a difficult wicket they batted brilliantly. When Shakib got out scoring 114 off 115 deliveries with 11 fours and a six, Bangladesh was within 9 runs of victory.

Mahmudullah remained not out on 102 which he scored from 107 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixes. It was a wonderful exhibition of high quality batting display. Bangladesh won hugely and handsomely by 5 wickets. 2

24 runs 5th wicket partnership set a new Bangladesh record at any wicket in ODI for Bangladesh eclipsing 178 runs partnership record earlier held back by Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim against Pakistan in 2015.

Shakib scored his 7th ODI century and Riyad his 3rd. New Zealand, who reduced Bangladesh to 33/4 by 12th over had to digest a 5 wickets defeat. It is the second time in few weeks’ time team Tigers won against New Zealand after the win in the Tri Nation tournament in Ireland.

Bangladesh carried its ascending quality in ODI to yet higher level. Earlier opting to bat New Zealand found a different Bangladesh bowling and fielding phenomenon. Bangladesh appeared with 4 pacers on a wicket which appeared a little bit of double pace. Captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza bowled on tight channel as usual. But Mustafizur Rahman was a bit expensive in his first spell.

Martin Guptill was in a punishing mood. Taskin Ahmed playing his first match of the tournament bowled fast and with penetration. When Taskin and Rubel were bowling well in tandem Bangladesh bowling appeared clicking for the first time.

Taskin removed Ronchi and Rubel accounted for Guptill bringing in two quality Kiwi batsmen Williams and Taylor at the wicket at 69 /2. All Bangladesh bowlers bowled to a plan and Mashrafe shuffled them well keeping his pacers fresh in short spells.

Shakib also tightened his length. The lucky break was Williamson getting run out after putting on 83 runs on the 3rd wicket partnership with Taylor. Williamson scored 57. Taylor and Broom put on another 48 in the fourth wicket.

But by then accurate bowling and tight fielding kept Kiwis on the check. Taskin Ahmed getting Ross Taylor out, triggered a middle order collapse of the Kiwis once again. From 3/201 in the 39th over, Kiwis could manage only 65 in 11 overs losing 5 wickets.

Mashrafe surprisingly brought in his part time off spinner Mosaddek at the last power play. He immediately struck gold taking 3 quick wickets. Mashrafe himself, Mustafiz and Rubel also bowled tight overs restricting New Zealand to 265/8 which once thought reaching 300 or there about.

Mosaddek got 3/13 in 3 overs and Taskin took 2/ 43. In innings break judging from the condition of the wicket and in consideration of Kiwi bowling strength, analysts were considering New Zealand as favorites. The sun shined and ball suddenly started swinging in the air and was moving off the seam.

Southee removed inform Tamim on second ball of the innings trapping him with a beautiful in swinger. Tamim unsuccessfully used up the challenge. So when Soumya Sarkar also got out to an almost similar delivery as no DRS was available. The ball tracking evidenced that it would have missed the stumps.

In between Sabbir Rahman fell to a brute of a delivering swinging late, Bangladesh was 3/12 by the 5th over. Reliable Mushfiqur Rahim was also cleaned up soon by Milne making it 4/33.

From then on Shakib –Riyad majestic batting amazingly carried Bangladesh to a historic win. This win at Cardiff brought the sweet memory of beating formidable Australia in 2005 when another Bangladesh icon Mohammad Ashraful scored a century and the then young Mashrafe Bin Mortaza got the wicket of Adam Gilchrist early.

Bangladesh in the ongoing Champions trophy, on Friday, for the first time looked like a true champion team worthy of challenging the best of the bests in all departments. Bowling was purposeful, fielding was sharp and batting was superb.

Forget about the first 4 wickets falling to top quality bowling. Team recovering from almost disaster and turning the table on superior team is an emerging cricket character of the team. We were confident that Shakib and Raid would bounce back to their superlative form sooner or later. They are world class performers.

Shakib Al Hasan proved yet again his credential as top all-rounder. Mahmudullah answered his critics with wonderful display. He must bat at higher order. His ideal position is number three. Sabbir Rahman will not be successful against quality opposition on difficult wickets at number three regularly for his suspected foot works.

Sourav Ganguly and Nasir Hossain were repeatedly asking why Mahmudullah in Bangladesh team bats at number six. Form is temporary and class is permanent. Bangladesh does not have too many better players than Mahmudullah playing in the top order. Believe it or not he was about to be flown home for temporary loss of form. Hope the team management would have their eyes opened.

New Zealand’s Champions Trophy mission is over. The possibilities of Bangladesh moving ahead now hangs on what happens in the match between England Australia. Bangladesh will go through to semi-final if England win or rain becomes player of the match tomorrow.

World cricket has witnessed three wonderful matches over the last three days. It all started with Pakistan beating South Africa in a rain interrupted match on Duckworth & Lewis calculation.

Sri Lanka won against defending champions India is a spectacular run chase creating new equation in the group. And yesterday that trend went on. Who knows what will be on store tomorrow.

In the pre-tournament preview India, South Africa, England and Australia were considered firm favorites. But now when the final round of group matches has started only England has confirmed a berth. Two of the other three favorites may have to exit.

A word or two must be said about Tiger army cheering Bangladesh team all over place. Chanting of Rubel -Rubel, Taskin -Taskin, Shakib –Shakib, Riyad – Raid were heard in chorus.

Tigers are really making Bangladesh bigger and brighter in the world map.

Khondkar Saleque Sufi is an eminent Research Fellow of Monash University, Australia, He was the former Advisor at Ministry of Mines & Petroleum of Republic of Afghanistan and Deputy General Manager of Bakhrabad Gas Systems Ltd.

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