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.
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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]
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.