Pressure of participating in a World Cup does funny things to be of cricket teams. The unpredictability of the sport is what makes it an exhibition of sheer emotions and edge-of-the-seat action. Wednesday was absolute testament to that fact.
When Mitchell Santner drove Mustafizur Rahman to the cover boundary in the 48th over, more than euphoria, there was a sense of relief in the New Zealand dressing room.
From 160 for two, the Kiwis had limped to 218 for seven, making hard work of what should have been a stroll given their batting line-up.
Faced with a tricky chase of 245 at the Kennington Oval, New Zealand had their old war horse Ross Taylor to thank as he anchored the innings with a measured 82 off 91 – an innings studded with nine hits to the fence.
Martin Guptill loves playing against Bangladesh, averaging his highest in one day internationals against them. His intent was clear from the start, smashing the opening ball of the chase to the fence. He followed it up with a six off the first ball of the second over – New Zealand were well and truly on their way.
Bangladesh are no longer pushovers in limited-overs cricket and they proved just that with two quick blows. Shakib Al Hasan, the wrecker-in-chief.
Guptill’s quick-fire cameo (25 off 14) was cut short when he found Tamim Iqbal at long on, and Colin Munro (24 off 34) followed shortly after with Mehidy Hasan taking sharp catch at short midwicket.
The Tigers had their best chance to put more pressure on their opponents in the 12th over. Taylor nudged one to mid-on and took off straightaway, while skipper Kane Williamson was ball watching at the other end. Tamim was quick to react and flung in an accurate throw and Williamson looked well short of his ground. It was heartbreak for Bangladesh though as replays showed that Mushfiqur Rahim had disturbed the furniture before collecting the ball, which was going on to crash into middle stump.
With composure the need of the hour, the middle order crumbled post Williamson’s (40 off 72) dismissal but the icy cool Santner (17 off 12) was in no mood to relent and ensured his side crossed the line notching their second victory of the campaign.
Earlier, put into bat under gloomy conditions on a slightly tacky wicket, the openers – Tamim and Soumya Sarkar -- once again got Bangladesh off to a solid start.
But just like in the game against South Africa neither could kick on and get a big score.
Before this game, over 50 percent of Matt Henry’s wickets were to order batsmen and he enhanced those numbers after castling Sarkar, who was looking good in his knock of 25 at a-run-a-ball.
Tamim was next to depart, falling victim to Lockie Ferguson’s sheer pace and bounce, top edging one to Trent Boult at midwicket.
The experienced pair of Mushfiqur and Shakib then began the rebuilding process from 60 for two.
It was all flowery for Bangladesh till the 24th over as the duo posted a 50-run partnership but utter confusion resulted in a disgruntled Mushfiqur making the long walk back to the hut. The wicket-keeper pushed Mitchell Santner wide of cover and took off for what should have been an easy single. His partner Shakib refused to budge with Mushfiqur halfway down the pitch and Tom Latham ripped the bails off.
Shakib did begin to up the ante with his impressive stroke-play but when he departed, having notched consecutive fifties (64 off 68 balls), Bangladesh’s innings seemed to have been derailed.
Mohammad Saifuddin struck a handy 29 off 23 at the back end of the innings leaving New Zealand 245 to defend, marginally short considering the result.