What we learned from Bangladesh's win over New Zealand

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Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah during their magnificent partnership [Getty Images]

The 2017 Champions Trophy continues to thrill as Bangladesh have given themselves a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals after they defeated New Zealand on Friday.

Here’s what we learned from the match.

Share your thoughts with us, too – get in touch on Twitter or via Facebook.

BANGLADESH’S HOPES NOW REST ON SATURDAY’S MATCH

Bangladesh have happy memories of the Sophia Gardens as it was here they stunned world champions Australia during a NatWest Trophy match in 2005. Then it was Mohammad Ashraful’s brilliant century that helped them overtake Australia’s 249.

Friday’s remarkable victory against New Zealand at the same venue has given them a fresh lease of life in the Champions Trophy. They are now placed second with three points in the Group A standings behind leaders England who meet Australia in their last group match on Saturday.

If Australia, who have two points from two matches, win they will progress to the semi-finals as their tally will swell to four but if the match is rained off or Australia lose then Bangladesh will go through on the basis of their win over the Kiwis.

So the win has done a lot of good for the Tigers yet the Aussies can spoil their party if the team from Down Under defeat England.

SHAKIB AND MAHMUDULLAH DISPLAY TIGERISH ZEAL

Bangladesh were provided with a lifeline when rain intervened and abandoned their encounter against Australia with Steve Smith and co. on the verge of an easy victory. It meant Mashrafe Mortaza’s side got a point from a game when they mostly would have got none.

Having not given a good account of their abilities in the two games — they lost to hosts England by eight wickets in the tournament opener — Bangladesh’s only shot at redemption was the last group match against New Zealand.

Their bowlers did well to restrict the Kiwis to 265 but their chase was going horribly wrong when they lost their top four wickets with just 33 on the board. But two of their most seasoned campaigners Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah were not going down without a fight.

Undaunted by the challenge at hand, they went about their task in clinical fashion on a pitch that offered assistance to the bowlers. They never allowed the New Zealand bowlers to settle and matched each other shot for shot as they went on to log hundreds in a scintillating 224-run alliance, the second-highest partnership in the tournament’s history, and the best of this edition.

It was also the best counter-attack the tournament has seen, coming a day after the Sri Lankan onslaught against the Indian bowling.

SWING IT LIKE SOUTHEE

The Sophia Gardens was where England’s fast bowlers had delivered an outstanding display earlier this week to rattle New Zealand and march into the semi-finals of the tournament.

The Kiwis knew what to expect from this pitch in their final game against Bangladesh so when Kane Williamson won the toss he had no hesitation to bat first because he knew the surface assists the pacers more in the second half.

Tim Southee, who had a relatively quiet tournament, rose to the occasion with a superb exhibition of swing bowling to scythe through the Bangladesh top-order, claiming the first three wickets.

The New Zealand fast bowling spearhead got late movement from the pitch and worked up a good pace to leave the Bangladesh batting in tatters with his bowling figures after three overs reading an impressive 3-1-10-3.

Tim Southee's fabulous opening spell went in vain [Getty Images]

Tim Southee’s fabulous opening spell went in vain [Getty Images]

BRAVE MOVE TO INTRODUCE MOSADDEK IN THE DEATH OVERS

The New Zealand innings was a story of two halves. They were going strong at the halfway stage at 134-2 but that’s when the Bangladesh bowling spearheaded by left-arm spinner Shakib checked the flow of runs.

It unsettled the Kiwis leading to the fall of wickets. But the most daring move came from Bangladesh skipper Mortaza in the 42nd over when he resorted to the off-spin of Mosaddek Hossain.

The 21-year-old, who was the sixth bowler used by Mortaza, had the rival batsmen in a spin with his quick-ish deliveries by claiming three wickets, two in one over, to emerge as the best bowler logging bowling figures of 3-0-13-3.

Captains often try to finish off the overs of their spinners before the final Powerplay, but on Friday, Mortaza took a bold gamble that paid off well as the Kiwis could add just 62 runs in the last 10 overs losing four wickets.

NEW ZEALAND LOWER-ORDER FAILS TO DELIVER

That Williamson is New Zealand’s top batsman is like saying the sun rises from the east. His scores of 100, 87 and 57 in the tournament highlight it further. But what will be a big concern for the Kiwi captain and the team management is the chaos that sets in once he is dismissed.

In all the three games of the Champions Trophy, New Zealand looked very good when Williamson was at the crease but once he got dismissed the lower-order failed to capitalise on the momentum provided by their skipper.

Against Australia, the last seven wickets fell for just 47 runs and in the next match against England, it was the same story (seven wickets collapsing for 65 runs). In the final group match on Friday, they were marginally better with five wickets falling for 100 runs.

In fact, barring Ross Taylor who has been relatively consistent with scores of 46, 39 and 63 none of the other batsmen have fared well. Batsmen No.5 to No.8 — Neil Broom, James Neesham, Corey Anderson, and Mitchell Santner — all capable of providing a strong impetus to the innings have fared the worst, collectively adding 151 runs which is just three more than Taylor’s tally in the tournament.

In short, New Zealand banked too much on Williamson and their totals looked good only when their captain scored big.

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Shakib and Mahmudullah star as Bangladesh keep semi-final hopes alive

Bangladesh have kept their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy alive after they defeated New Zealand by five wickets at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Friday.

The win was made possible by a quite superb 224-run stand in just 209 deliveries, the highest-ever partnership for Bangladesh in ODI cricket, between Shakib Al Hasan (114 off 115 balls) and Mahmudullah (102* off 107 balls). What made the alliance between the two even more special was that they came together with the score reading 33-4.

Chasing 266, Bangladesh had got off to an awful start as New Zealand pacer Tim Southee reduced the Asian side to 12-3 before Adam Milne took the wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim (14 off 34 balls).

It looked like Bangladesh were on the brink of exiting the tournament, but Shakib and Mahmudullah had other plans as both batsmen struck magnificent centuries.

In the end, Bangladesh got home comfortably with 16 balls remaining in their innings.

Earlier, a good bowling display from Bangladesh restricted the Kiwis to 265-8 in their 50 overs.

While Martin Guptill (33 off 35 balls) got New Zealand off to a good start, it was the 83-run partnership between Kane Williamson (57 off 69 balls) and Ross Taylor (63 off 82 balls) that looked to have given them a good platform.

Williamson was on his way to another big score but a misunderstanding with Taylor saw him run-out in the 30th over.

Taylor and Neil Broom (36 off 40 balls) then put on a steady partnership together before Mosaddek Hossain came on to bowl and registered career-best ODI bowling figures of 3-13 to peg back the Kiwis.

While England have qualified from Group A as the first-placed team, Bangladesh now find themselves second with three points. This win doesn’t guarantee Mashrafe Mortaza’s side a semi-final spot yet though, as a win for Australia on Saturday will see the Aussies through to the final four.

On the other hand, New Zealand have been knocked out of the tournament, with just one point from their three matches.

BRIEF SCORES

New Zealand 265-8, 50 overs [Taylor 63, Williamson 57, Mosaddek 3-13] lost to Bangladesh 268-5, 47.2 overs [Shakib 114, Mahmudullah 102*, Southee 3-45] by five wickets.

Player of the Match – Shakib Al Hasan.

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Australia back themselves against any opponent - none more so than England

Alex Broun 9/06/2017
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Australia are desperate for a win against England.

The more likely scenario for the Australia vs England quarter-final on Saturday is… you guessed it – no result. And that is not just judging from this rain-marred Champions Trophy.

In the last six ODIs, Australia have played at Edgbaston stretching way back to 2005 – five have ended up as NR. And while there is, thankfully, only a slight chance of rain falling in Birmingham we all know the unpredictability of the English summer means it could be six from seven come tonight.

Which is a pity, as although the rest of the world may be up in arms about the rain and the vagaries of a fixture list that could see Australia eliminated without losing – or even completing – a match, don’t expect to hear too much bleating from the Australian team themselves.

Indeed, if anything, they’ll be happy about the circumstances that have turned the match against England into sudden death.

The reason goes back to the Australian sporting psyche and two simple words – back yourself.

Aussie teams, no matter what sport they are playing, whether it be underwater hockey or ultimate Frisbee, will always back themselves, especially against England.

They believe they will win. It’s not arrogance, it’s merely a statement of fact.

This in part is due to the fact that Australia has enjoyed such success as a sporting nation, with a relatively small population, that the winning mentality infuses teams across all levels.

So even before Australians take the field they believe they will win, not because they are better prepared, more skilful or more experienced – they feel they will win because it is their divine right. It’s the way things are meant to be.

Lehmann, Warner and Smith assess the pitch at Edgbaston.

No offence if you are reading this as an England fan but Aussies always believe they will beat you. They’ve beaten you in the past, they’ll beat you in the future.

There are of course aberrations to the rule – “Bodyline” and the 3-0 drubbing in 2013 – but overall Australia have won 140 Ashes tests to England’s 108. In ODIs the margin is even more stark with Australia winning 80 matches to England’s 51.

True, England have improved in the one-day game but Australia still hold a 13-9 winning record over the last five years.

On their day Australia can match anyone. And who can claim with certainty today won’t be Australia’s day? It will take just one batsman – David Warner, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch – or one bowler – Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa – from their high octane arsenal to take the game away from England. Ben Stokes, do your best.

So Australia will back themselves to spoil England’s party and then fully expect to meet the Englishmen again in the final at Lords next Sunday… and beat them again.

Not arrogance, just confidence.

And if by some fluke they don’t manage to beat England, the Australian players also have a fall-back plan – blame Cricket Australia (CA). Warner has already set it up beautifully, choosing to openly speak out against his cricket board in the ongoing revenue-sharing impasse.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to win,” said Warner after CA released a video arguing their side of the case. “And if Cricket Australia want to try and help us win, I think they wouldn’t be releasing videos like that.”

“We have an important game coming up this week and that is our focus, and the memorandum of understanding can wait until after the game and the tournament.”

Persecuted by the tournament schedule on one side and undermined by cricket authorities on the other. It puts Australia’s back exactly where they want them to be – up against the wall.

Aussies are never more dangerous than when you are ready to count them out.

Just a pity that Australia’s greatest foe may turn out to be… the rain – and that is one opponent they can’t beat.

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