2015 ICC World Cup: New Zealand dig deep to get past Bangladesh

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March 13, 2015

Brief Scorecard: New Zealand 289 for 7 (Guptill 105, Shakib 4-55) beat Bangladesh 288 for 7 (Mahmudullah 128*, Soumya 51) by three wickets

Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee saw New Zealand home with seven balls to spare, New Zealand vs Bangladesh, World Cup 2015, Group A, Hamilton, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

Brief Scorecard: New Zealand 289 for 7 (Guptill 105, Shakib 4-55) beat Bangladesh 288 for 7 (Mahmudullah 128*, Soumya 51) by three wickets

Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee saw New Zealand home with seven balls to spare, New Zealand vs Bangladesh, World Cup 2015, Group A, Hamilton, March 13, 2015

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND: Bangladesh did a lot of things right against one of the favorites to lift the 2015 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 them.

As a result, they put up a strong 288 for 7 after being asked to bat. Then they 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 were pushed into a dark corner, a position they hadn’t been in for a long time.

As with all potential champions, though, 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, undercooked and needing some thawing, got that crucial time out in the middle, although they could have done much better.

That said, in the end New Zealand strengthened their credentials as potential trophy winners, winning by three wickets with seven balls to spare.

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 the unpredictable Luke Ronchi. Nasir Hossain then chipped in with the late wicket of Corey Anderson as well, as New Zealand made a meal of the chase. For those weak of heart, the last few overs were unsuitable for viewing. 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. It was a like poking a tiny hole in a balloon – the pressure was released – and Southee wrapped things up with a cut through point for four.

In doing so, they ensured they would qualify for the quarterfinals of the World Cup unbeaten, while Bangladesh, having sealed their spot in the knockouts with the victory against England, have to now gear up for a clash against India – the Pool B toppers – in the last eight.

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 their 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 were 33 for 2.

You could almost see the raw delirium in the eyes of the Bangladesh players. They had slayed something of a giant in England, and they were ready to do it again. Unfortunately, giant killing is easier said than done. This New Zealand side isn’t just any other giant. They are hungry for success, and know they won’t have as good a chance to win a World Cup in a while – a defeat, while not mathematically costly, would leave room for doubt. They couldn’t let that happen.

Martin Guptill made his first World Cup hundred, New Zealand v Bangladesh, World Cup 2015, Group A, Hamilton, March 13, 2015

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 tentative as well and Bangladesh suddenly found all roads leading to dead ends.

But 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. There was no more drama as 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 they craved. Guptill tried attacking him, but ended up finding Rubel Hossain at long on.

Bangladesh were back in it. And New Zealand were by no means in the clear. 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 were in a pickle at 219 for 5.

However, late mini-partnerships saw them 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 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 was and the excellent Mahmudullah defied. 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 Bangladesh encountered a mini-collapse. Shakib was adventurous but fell for an 18-ball 23. Mushfiqur Rahim flayed his bat around but fell to Anderson, for a 25-ball 15.

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.

 

Mahmudullah struck 12 fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 123-ball 128, New Zealand v Bangladesh, World Cup 2015, Group A, Hamilton, March 13, 2015

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, that possibly cost Bangladesh a few valuable runs late on. Very costly runs.


Courtesy: Wisden India

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