Uday Sankar Das
What a game of cricket! Bangladesh has qualified for the quarter finals of the ICC World Cup Cricket by knocking out England by 15 runs in a nail-biting finish at Adelaide. Bangladesh creates yet another cricketing history.
Although Bangladesh had qualified to play in the Super 8 stage in the 2007 edition, it is for the first time that the team will play in the knock- out stage.
It had never happened before, and at one stage in Adelaide on Monday it seemed it would not happen this time as well. So often had Bangladesh cricket team clinched defeat from the clutches of victory and with a crucial catch dropped by Tamim Iqbal in the 48th over, heads were down and it appeared that England would take the last quarter final spot from the group.
But, Rubel Hossain struck twice in the penultimate over to disturb the wickets and send Broad and Anderson packing and with that dashed any hopes that England had at one stage of getting through. The roar of the emotional and enthusiastic crowd at Adelaide was deafening.
It was a match that had seen Bangladesh in a totally different light. Right from the start, it appeared that the players had taken the field with a positive attitude. After being put into bat, Bangladesh lost both the openers for only 8 runs on the board, but from there on, the batsmen with gritty determination took the score to 94 for 3.
Even the loss of Shakib al Hasan when the team score was only 99 did not demoralise the Bangladesh batsmen. Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, the two most dependable batsmen in the team, played with great responsibility taking the score to 240-5, and Mahmudullah became the first player to score a century for Bangladesh in the World Cup Cricket.
Mushfiqur Rahman could have easily followed Mahmudullah but he was out after playing another brilliant innings of 89 for his team when it was needed the most.
The score of 275-7 seemed surpassable by England and they easily reached the 100-mark losing only two wickets. Then came the crucial decision by Bangladesh captain Mashrafee Murtaza to bring Rubel Hossain who was the fastest bowler on the day against Ian Bell who was batting with confidence and scored another half century.
But Rubel struck in the very first ball of the 27th over, Mushfiq taking an easy case to send Bell to the pavilion. In the same over, Rubel struck again, Eoin Morgan getting out in the same fashion without scoring. That was thought to be the turning point of the match. When Mashrafee brought himself in at the beginning of batting power play, it seemed a very bold decision. But, he was able to send Joe Root back to the pavilion rekindling the hopes of Bangladesh. From then onwards, Jos Butler and Chris Woakes took charge of England's batting and were cruising to a victory, until the 47th over when rookie fast bowler Taskin Ahmed got Butler caught behind and Joe Jordon was run out in the same over.
Just at that moment when Tamim Iqbal missed a catch, it was thought that he cost the match dearly for Bangladesh. But there was more drama waiting. The ball was handed over to Rubel in the 49th over who uprooted the wickets of Stuart Broad and James Anderson in quick succession leaving the players, the team management and the large number of supporters in Adelaide ecstatic. Bangladesh won by 15 runs. Rubel finished with four wickets for 53 runs.
This was a match that Bangladesh had planned with great precision. Full marks to Mahmudullah and Mushfiq who took the responsibility of batting with caution and guiding the team to a match winning score. On the way, Mahmudullah scored his maiden ODI century and Mushfiq could have followed him. His innings of 89 was also brilliant.
On the field, the team was full of energy. The fielding was superb, considering that the boundary on one side was very short. The planning was impeccable; the bowling changes brought about by Mashrafee told the story. The implementation of those plans brought the desired results. The bowlers bowled a very good line and length.
As I had written yesterday, the next stop is Melbourne where on 19 March Bangladesh would be taking on the 2011 champions India who are at the moment bursting with confidence with an unbeaten streak in the World Cup.
The Bangladesh Tigers and their fans will also take this self-confidence and self-belief into that match and turn it into a great cricketing spectacle.
In the meantime, let us congratulate Mashrafee and his brilliant team on this great achievement and hope for more such laurels in the future.