Bangladesh held on to claim a famous Cricket World Cup victory by 21 runs against South Africa at The Oval on Day 4 of the tournament.
Bangladesh’s innings was characterised by fearless batting and attacking shots. And the tone was set by the openers Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar with a 60-partnership off 50 balls.
The Tigers could not have wished for a better start to their 2019 Cricket World Cup campaign. Soumya played the attractive and aggressive strokes, scoring his 42 off 32 balls, at a strike rate of 140. Tamim played in a steady manner for his 16 off 29 balls.
It was not the start that South Africa would have wanted after winning the toss and choosing to field. The slow wicket at the Oval was not giving their bowlers much to work with.
And though they had found edges in the first eight overs, it was a case of fortune favours the brave as the Bangladesh openers rode their luck.
Nevertheless, the hard graft of South Africa’s fast bowlers was rewarded with the wickets of both openers.
First Andile Phehlukwayo coming around the wicket, bowled a threatening ball into left-handed Tamim’s corridor of uncertainty, which was knicked behind to Quentin De Kock, in the ninth over.
Then in the twelfth over, Chris Morris used the short ball which has been successful at this World Cup so far, to goad Soumya to spurn the ball behind to De Kock for his second snare.
After the loss of the two openers, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur responded positively as they attempted the steady the ship. Mushfiqur, strong on the off-side, played many of his trademark cut shots. Shakib struck the ball with intent whenever it was there to be hit.
Their partnership began as a dogged display to establish themselves. As their partnership built, so did the fluidity of their strokeplay and the rate at which they scored.
Shakib and Mushfiqur together put on a huge partnership of 142. But it was broken by the enigmatic Imran Tahir. With fielders short on the leg side, lefty Shakib shimmied across to his off-stump to make room to hit into the vacant field. However, Tahir bowled a straight yorker which bowled Shakib around his legs.
Tahir was off on another of his trademark runs four overs later when he bowled newcomer Mohammed Mithun, who contributed with 21 at a run-a-ball.
When Mushfiqur lofted a delivery from Phelukwayo to Rassie van der Dussen at deep point, it left the score at 250-5 off 42.1 overs, and it looked like the momentum was about to shift towards South Africa.
However, Bangladesh were not to be denied and produced a late flurry. Arguably the catalyst of this was a dropped catch by Kagiso Rabada at deep square leg, which spilled for four, on the first ball of the 47th over. It allowed Mahmudullah, on 12, off the hook and gave Bangladesh confidence for their late surge.
Mahmudullah finished on 46 not out off 33 balls, which was a vital knock for the Tigers. He was supported by Mosaddek Hossain who fell in the penultimate over for 26 off 20 balls. Bangladesh finished on 330-6.
A hamstring injury for Lungi Ngidi meant that he was only able to bowl four overs. He had bowled impressively in the tournament opener against England and showed signs of that in this match. South Africa will hope that he can return soon.
South Africa make a solid start to their run chase. This was until Proteas openers de Kock and Aiden Markram got into a mess, resulting in the former getting run out for 23 off 32 balls, and bring to end their 49-run partnership.
Faf Du Plessis came in at number 3, and he and Markram added another 53 in the next ten overs. The latter fell thanks to inspired moment by Shakib Al Hasan, who bowled the opener.
Captain Du Plessis continued to score and was South Africa’s top scorer with 62 off 53. However, he also fell to another impressive delivery, this time a beautifully flighted by Mehidy Hasan, leaving South Africa on 147-3 off 26.4 overs.
In now characteristic fashion, South Africa made another half century partnership before losing their fourth wicket. Power hitter David Miller made a commendable 38 from 43 balls, before being caught by Mustafizur took his wicket, caught by Mehidy.
South Africa scored their runs in the first half of their innings at a slightly slower rate than Bangladesh, steadily scoring at between 5 and 6 an over. This did not seem a problem as the score ticked along and the Proteas maintained wickets in hand.
Looking at South Africa’s scorecard, it is apparent that there were contributions all the way down the order. However, the one thing that was missing was one of these batsmen who made a good start, to go on to make a big score which would have carried them over the line.
It was only the captain Du Plessis who made a half century. Three batsmen made excellent starts but got out in the 40s: Markram (45 runs off 56 balls), Rassie van der Dussen (41 off 38) and JP Duminy (45 off 37). Miller fell in the late 30s and de Kock in the 20s.
South Africa also lack batting depth at the bottom of the order. This meant that once Duminy fell in the 48th over, it was the effectively the end of their chase. There are other teams at this World Cup with a far bigger batting curve.
Blaming South Africa’s weaknesses for their loss is not fair on Bangladesh, who deserve credit for their masterful performance in all areas. When it looked like it could have been a close finish, Bangladesh held their nerve, remained calm under pressure and made it look easy at the end.
Mashrafe Mortaza was strong in his leadership and shrewd in his choices. Mustafizur Rahman was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 67 from 10 overs, taking the crucial wickets of Miller, Duminy and Morris – the latter being the final nail in the coffin.
Mohammed Saifuddin also deserves a mention for his 2 for 57 from 8 overs, claiming the scalps of van der Dussen and Phehlukwayo.
South Africa will be disappointed with today’s result. On paper they still have a strong squad with proven performers and they know that they need to do better. A key moment in the match was Bangladesh’s late flurry with the bat, and here South Africa lacked leadership and a coherent bowling plan.
All of the 170 million Bangladeshis will rightly rejoice at Bangladesh’s victory, as they repeat the feat of their famous victory against the Proteas at the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies.
Bangladesh benefited greatly from their passionate supporters at The Oval today. With the British Bangladeshi numbering nearly half a million, over 300,000 of whom live in London, they will be able to count on this in the future games, particularly if they keep winning.
Images courtesy of the ICC Cricket World Cup Twitter account