CARDIFF: Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah both made superb centuries as Bangladesh kept their hopes of a Champions Trophy semi-final alive with a stunning five-wicket victory over New Zealand at Cardiff on Friday.
Bangladesh, chasing a modest 266 for victory, had collapsed to 12 for three when left-hander Shakib (114) came in.
And they were not much better off when Mahmudullah (102 not out) walked out at 33 for four.
But their fifth-wicket partnership of 224 — Bangladesh’s highest-ever one-day international stand, surpassing the 178 shared by Tamim amd Mushfiqur Rahim against Pakistan at Dhaka in 2015, turned the match on its head.
Shakib fell just before the end but when Mosaddek Hossain, who’d earlier justified his recall with three wickets, edged Adam Milne for a four, the Tigers had finished on 268 for five and won with 16 balls to spare.
This was the latest upset in a week of surprises at the Champions Trophy, a tournament featuring the world’s top eight ODI sides, after Pakistan’s win over top-ranked South Africa and Sri Lanka’s defeat of title-holders India, while for Bangladesh it was another memorable triumph in Cardiff following their shock 2005 ODI win over Australia on this ground.
“We just said keep going,” explained Shakib, the man-of-the-match, at the presentation ceremony.
“We didn’t talk about the target, we just wanted to bat for 40 overs and see where we got to.
“It’s very important, and a big thing for us. From here, we can only go forward.”
Mahmudullah added: “We had to stay positive. Once the ball stopped swinging it became easier to bat on.”
But despite this latest success in the Welsh capital, Bangladesh still need already-qualified England to beat Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday or hope that the match ends — as both Australia’s previous Group A fixtures have done — in a no result if they are to reach the semi-finals.
– ‘Innings of two halves’ –
Defeat ended New Zealand’s hopes of reaching the last four and meant that for the first time in 25 International Cricket Council tournaments (World Cup, World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy), they had taken part without recording a single win.
“It was certainly an innings of two halves,” beaten New Zealand captain Kane Williamson told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
“The first 20 overs we were simply outstanding. The way our bowlers applied themselves was brilliant.
“Hats off to Shakib and Mahmudullah, they batted simply superbly.”
Bangladesh’s run chase suffered a dreadful start when Tamim Iqbal, fresh from scores of 128 and 95 against England and Australia respectively, was lbw for a second ball duck to Tim Southee.
Southee then had Sabbir Rahman caught behind.
And when Soumya Sarkar was lbw to Southee, Bangaladesh were 12 for three.
Bangladesh lost another key batsmen cheaply when Mushfiqur (14) was bowled by Milne.
They were now 33 for four in the 12th over but, importantly, still had plenty of overs left in which to chase down their target.
Mahmudullah got the Bangladesh fans in a sparse crowd cheering when he pulled Jimmy Neesham for a six and a four off successive deliveries.
In a desperate bid to break the stand, Williamson brought himself on to bowl his occasional off-spin but Mahmudullah hit him for six over long-on and Shakib drove him for a four.
Nothing Williamson tried worked, with Shakib completing his century in style when he pulled Milne for six.
When left-arm paceman Trent Boult bowled him to end a 115-ball innings also featuring 11 fours, Bangladesh were almost home at 257 for five.
Mahmudullah followed Shakib to a century by launching Boult over square leg for his eighth four in 102 balls.
Earlier, Bangladesh restricted New Zealand to 265 for eight after Williamson won the toss.
Recalled bowlers Mosaddek (three for 13 in three overs) and Taskin Ahmed (two for 43 in eight) did the bulk of the damage.
New Zealand were well set while Williamson (57) and Ross Taylor (63) shared a partnership of 83.
But, as happened in their no-result washout with Australia and defeat by England, they stumbled once the experienced batsmen were out in quick succession.
Williamson, who made 100 and 87 against England and Australia respectively, needlessly ran himself out when he set off for a non-existent single after Taylor turned Shakib behind square to Mosaddek.
Taylor exited soon afterwards when caught at short fine leg after mistiming an extravagant ‘ramp’ shot off Taskin and the innings never recovered.