An unbelievable 224-run stand between Mahmudulllah and Shakib al Hasan led Bangladesh to the most unlikely five-wicket triumph over New Zealand on Friday.
Coming into the match, it was a must-win clash for both teams in order to stand a chance of progressing to the semi-finals. After a delay due to a wet outfield, it was the Kiwis who won the toss and chose to bat.
They made a fantastic start to their innings thanks to Martin Guptill (33) and Luke Ronchi (16). Though neither of them managed to convert their starts into a fifty, Ross Taylor (63) and Kane Williamson (57) kept the runs flowing for New Zealand. The pair added 83 runs for the third wicket in 16 overs.
Taylor added a further 52 runs with Neil Broom before he was sent on his way by Taskin Ahmed.
New Zealand again came to rue a batting collapse. Bangladesh picked up four wickets for 62 runs in the last ten overs to restrict the Kiwis to 265-8.
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The Bangladesh reply got off to a nightmare start. Tim Southee trapped Bangladesh’s talisman Tamim Iqbal lbw off the second ball of the first over. Sabbir Rahman responded emphatically by hitting Southee for consecutive boundaries to open his account. Southee, however, exacted revenge in his next over by having Rahman caught behind for eight.
It went from bad to worse for the Tigers when Southee made it three by dismissing Soumya Sakar. Mushfiqur Rahman (14) stuck around for 34 deliveries before Adam Milne picked him off.
This brought Shakib al Hasan and Mahmudullah together in the middle with the score on 33-4. They took time to get their respective eyes in but once they did, they looked comfortable. They kept the scoreboard ticking and took Bangladesh past fifty. Both adopted a low-risk, but effective strategy. A couple of big overs off the bowling of James Neesham and Corey Anderson helped advance the Tigers’ score into three figures after 23 overs.
Far from finished, Al Hasan’s fifty coincided with the century partnership. Mahmudullah followed suit shortly thereafter with a half-century of his own two overs later. The pair continued to rotate the strike with ease, while taking few risks.
Al Hasan and Mahmudullah led their team past 150 in the 32nd over, but even the most ardent Bangladeshi supporter would have admitted that the Kiwis were still favourites.
The batsman continued to chip away at the total and blunted the New Zealand attack all the while. When the partnership grew past 189, history was made. Mahmudullah and Al Hasan had recorded the highest partnership in Bangladesh ODI history, perhaps more than they dared to dream.
When Shakib al Hasan crossed the three-figure mark, it was Bangladesh’s match to lose. Though he ultimately departed for a terrific 114 (11 fours, one six), Bangladesh required just nine more runs for victory.
Mahmudullah saw his team over the line by striking a four to bring up his own century, before Mosaddek Hossain finished things off with another boundary, to crown a most magnificent fight-back by Bangladesh.
Their progression to the semi-finals now hinges on an England victory over Australia on Saturday.
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