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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Smith: Pay dispute won't affect Australia against England

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Must-win: Australia have to beat England.

Steve Smith has dismissed any suggestion that Australia may be put off their game in the must-win Champions Trophy fixture against England by the ongoing pay dispute with their employers.

Smith’s vice-captain David Warner has been vociferous on several occasions about the players’ steadfast refusal to back down on the details of a new memorandum of understanding for a payment model with Cricket Australia.

He even implied on Thursday that the governing body’s negotiating tactics with the Australian Cricketers’ Association may risk distracting their team, who have endured back-to-back no-results because of poor weather in this summer’s global tournament and therefore have to beat the hosts at Edgbaston on Saturday to sneak into the semi-finals.

England are already through to the last four, and Smith knows his team cannot afford to be short of their best at a venue where they have a miserable record of no victory in 12 often rain-wrecked matches across the formats since 2001.

Asked about the potential distraction of the contract stand-off, he said: “We’re not worried about that at all.”

“We know the ACA is handling that back home.”

“For us, it’s about concentrating on this tournament – and tomorrow is a big game for everyone in this group.”

“I think the players have been really united through everything that’s going on with the MoU back home.”

The stakes are too high on the pitch for Smith to contemplate any loss of concentration.

He added: “The Champions Trophy only comes around every four years, and it’s the second biggest tournament after the World Cup, so we’ve got to be focused on that.”

“It’s a very cut-throat tournament with only three pool matches. So you’ve got to be switched on for each and every one of those, albeit we’re only going to be getting through one potentially.”

He is banking on his team raising their game when they most need to, as the World Cup holders so often have in the past.

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