So, sanity has been restored. There were no heart stopping or topsy-turvy moments, and more importantly there were no roller-coaster rides that have been associated with the Tigers in the tournament, as they comfortably posted a six-wicket victory over the Netherlands to take a bold step towards the quarterfinals of the ICC Cricket World Cup yesterday.
Shakib Al Hasan’s men won the match in the way they had exactly needed to do — through a complete team effort – in front of a capacity crowd at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium after two closely contested wins against Ireland and England and two defeats to India and West Indies.
With the easy sail, which was also a sweet revenge of their six-wicket defeat to these opponents in Glasgow last year, the Tigers kept their quarterfinal chances very much alive and they will definitely be looking forward to Thursday’s match between England and West Indies, as the latter’s victory will take them to the next round. In the case of England winning, the Tigers have to win their last Group B match against South Africa at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on March 19.
Back to the match; an inspired new ball spell from Shafiul Islam, followed up by the nagging accuracy of the battery of left-arm spinners led by seasoned campaigner Abdur Razzak who claimed three wickets for 29 runs, saw Bangladesh wrap up the Dutch on the cheap. The fantastic bowling was backed by a dazzling fielding effort — though two catches were dropped — which caused four run outs to shoot Netherlands out for a paltry 160 runs.
The ball didn’t turn much on this slow pitch but the Dutch batsmen, except Ryan ten Doeschate who was unbeaten on 53, displayed a lack of skill when handling the Bangladeshi spin bowlers who maintained a superb line and length to set the platform for the important victory.
And then the most encouraging fact was that at least one batsman came up with that rare commodity — the consistency for which the team has been crying out for so long — as Imrul Kayes hit the second of his back-to-back half-centuries to guide Bangladesh to the target of 166 for the loss of four wickets in 41.2 overs.
It was encouraging the way the southpaw batsman, who played a match-winning knock of 60 against England in the previous game, kept his cool and applied himself in the middle on a slow and low pitch to finish the game with an unbeaten 73, the innings which brought him his second man-of-the-match award in as many games; a rare feat indeed for any Bangladeshi batsman.
Chasing the easy target, Bangladesh got a jolt very early when the dashing Tamim Iqbal made a four-ball duck with the scoreboard reading nought. The local boy pushed through the line against Mudassar Bukhari but missed the line to lose his off stump to silence the crowd. But Junaed Siddiqui joined Kayes to repair the early damage and steadied the ship with a 92-run second wicket partnership.
It was not an easy track to play shots on, and coach Jamie Siddons must be happy with the way the two took the conditions into consideration to build their innings, before Peter Borren put an end to the partnership when Junaed (35 off 53 balls) slapped a poor delivery straight to extra cover where Pieter Seelaar took a simple catch.
Almost everything, however, went right in the match for the Tigers as all their plans were executed, with Shahriar Nafees making good use of his opportunity on his comeback to the side as he shared a 59-run third-wicket partnership with Kayes.
Nafees cashed in on his inclusion — as left-arm spinner Sohrawardi Shuvo did earlier during his ten-over spell — by playing a morale boosting innings of 37 off 60 balls with four boundaries.
Mushfiqur Rahim then finished the game in style by hitting a boundary and six against Tom Cooper to make sure Bangladesh walked over the minnows to regain full confidence before their last group match against South Africa.
The Bangladesh team will leave the port city today with happy memories having won both their games here to revive the hope that was shattered after the disaster against West Indies, but they still have a big challenge on their hands to make their dream come true; which is to qualify for the quarterfinals.