Kane Williamson, the star, and hope of Black Caps threw the new ball to Tim Southee to ball the first over of Bangladesh innings. He was given the task to give New Zealand an early breakthrough and in the second ball of the over, Southee dished out an in-dipper which took the in form Bangladeshi batsmen Tamim Iqbal by surprise and dismissed him for a duck. In the next over, Trent Boult bowled fast and swung the ball. He started off with an absolute cracker to Soumya Sarkar and in the fifth ball, he pinged Sabbir on the stomach after zipping past the inside edge. Boult put chills down the spines of Soumya and Sabbir.
Southee came on to bowl the next over and produced a cracking delivery to Sabbir which kissed his edge and went to Luke Ronchi. After another testing over from Boult, Southee produced yet another in-dipper which hit Soumya’s back leg and Bangladesh lost their third wicket for twelve runs. For eleven overs, Southee and Boult made Bangladesh top order experience hell. It was a display of bone-chilling pace bowling which left them clueless and when Milne dismissed Mushfiqur Rahim, a New Zealand victory was just a matter of time.
But cricket is a funny game. You never know when the momentum can shift and the way this edition of Champions Trophy has been gifting us shocks after shocks, it was hard to switch off the television and concentrate on other works. Gradually, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad pulled the match out of the fire by stitching a record partnership for the fifth wicket and left Williamson out of ideas. Shakib and Mahmudullah struck hundreds and Bangladesh essayed another epic on the same ground where they beat Australia twelve years ago.
Bangladesh’s victory at Cardiff was the result of a sheer will power and great teamwork.
Attacking team combination
The Bangladesh head coach, Chandika Hathurusingha, thought of unleashing an attacking combination during the do or die clash against New Zealand. He included an extra pace bowler instead of Imrul Kayes, who failed miserably in the previous two matches. This gave Bangladesh a great opportunity to attack and search for wickets while New Zealand were batting. They did not have to rely too much on part-timers and at the end of the day, it proved to be a very good team selection. Of course, without an attacking combination, no team can dream big.
Mustafizur Rahman’s spell in the middle overs
Mustafizur Rahman proved costly in the middle overs. He went for nineteen runs in his first two overs but returned to bowl a three-over spell in tandem with Shakib in the eighteenth over. He leaked just fifteen runs. He returned to bowl another three-over spell in the 35th over and during that spell, Fizz sucked the life out of Kiwis batsmen.
He bowled with a scrambled seam and varied his length smartly. It halted the momentum of New Zealand batting and they struggled to score runs. Fizz, mixed up his slower and faster deliveries very well and his action remained the same while bowling both. It was hard to pick Fizz as the yorkers fell at the base of middle and off stump by rotating and giving the batsmen the false impression of a slower delivery.
Fizz’s spell in the middle overs was instrumental in saving at least twenty to thirty runs.
Disciplined Shakib Al Hasan, aggressive Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain
Since the tri-series at Ireland, Shakib Al Hasan’s performance both with the ball and bat was not satisfactory. But players like Shakib are made for the big occasions. He was given the ball when two most feared batsmen of world cricket were at the crease, Ross Taylor, and Williamson. Shakib did not try to be adventurous with the ball but bowled with discipline so that Williamson and Taylor could not score freely. He was more like a supporting bowler at Cardiff. While Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain attacked from the other end, Shakib ensured that the pressure is always maintained so that his partners can utilize it.
Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain were fantastic with the ball. Taskin looked very rusty in the warm-up games, but at Cardiff, he seemed to have regained his rhythm and bowled his heart out. Whereas, as usual, Rubel was highly effective at the death and middle overs. He dared to bounce the batsmen and his yorkers were terrifying.
Mashrafe Mortaza’s brilliant captaincy
The Bangladesh bowlers stranglehold the New Zealand batters and in the slog overs, they will try to flex their muscles to muzzle the Bangladesh attack. Mashrafe Mortaza threw the ball to Mosaddek Hossain and his move surprised everyone. But this move was not out of imaginative captaincy, but smart thinking. The Cardiff track was slowing down and it demanded the need of a finger spinner who’s ball will fetch wickets while attempting to hit hard. Mosaddek’s gentle finger spin was ideal for that situation and he paid back Mash’s faith in style by setting jitters in New Zealand batting line up.
Again, Mash, like the match against New Zealand at Dublin, rotated his bowlers very well. Even when Williamson and Taylor were well poised to bat Bangladesh out of the game, he never stepped back from attacking. This is the hallmark of a great captain and Mashrafe is one of the best captains in world cricket today.
Shakib and Mahmudullah’s spirited fight back
The funda of building a partnership in cricket is more about rotating the strike rather than big hits. When Shakib and Mahmudullah joined each other in the middle, Bangladesh’s condition was pathetic. While many decided to give up, they thought, victory was still possible if a big partnership could be built. They occupied the crease at first and as soon as the threat of Southee, Boult nad Milne ebbed away, they fetched singles and couples smartly.
Williamson introduced Southee and Boult to break the partnership, but Shakib aMahmudullah did not lose composure but dabbed the ball through the gaps. When they both brought the asking run rate within reach, they attacked and reached their hundred with a sheer arrogance.
It was an unbelievable partnership and made Bangladesh believe strongly, anything is possible if you dare to chase your dreams.