New Zealand completed a thrilling run chase to see off game opponents Bangladesh by 2 wickets at The Oval in London.
The Black Caps bowled Bangladesh all out for 244 from 49.2 overs, which did not seem like enough runs on the board to defend.
The Tigers however took New Zealand right down to the wire, in what should otherwise have been a straight-forward run chase, to provide one of the most drama-filled finishes of the World Cup so far.
New Zealand won the toss and decided to bowl. They might have the most fearsome pace attack in the world at the moment, and Matt Henry and Trent Boult forced the usually aggressive Bangladeshi openers to play more cautiously.
Despite this threat wicket-taking threat from New Zealand, Tamim Iqbal still managed a couple of pretty flicks off his pads for boundaries.
Soumya Sarkar joined in the party in the from the fifth over as if he was annoyed of the fact that he was being limited to ones and twos. Unfortunately some his clean hits went straight to fielders.
In this fantastic battle, Boult responded disciplined bowling, including the surprise bouncer, close enough to shave the hair off one’s moustache.
Soumya had smashed Henry for two boundaries in the 7th over and Tamim hit one to mid wicket the next, as the openers looked like they were on there way to a fifty partnership.
Henry however gained revenge in his duel with Soumya, as the batsman hacked across the line at a full, middle-stump ball. Soumya departed on 25, and Bangladesh were 45-1.
New Zealand re-established control for the rest of the powerplay, as they only conceded four more runs.
After Soumya’s error, Shakib and Tamim adjusted the game plan. They showed respect to the dangerous balls and ran the ones and the twos, to lay a platform for a hitting offensive towards the end of the innings.
Lockie Ferguson’s introduction led to the fall of Bangladesh’s second wicket. After a tight first over, the bowled three short-pitch deliveries in a row. The first was wide. The second one went through to the keeper. Tamim attempted to hook the third, but did not connect and it looped up to Boult at mid-wicket.
Mushfiqur got his innings off to a good start but he was run out by Guptill when he pushed a ball into the off side, but was sent back by Shakib. Mitchell Santner in particular was building pressure with his economical bowling.
Under the pressure of the New Zealand bowling onslaught, Bangladesh refused to give up. Shakib brought up his fifty in the 28th over, and then smashed 11 runs off the next over.
But two overs later de Grandhomme managed to lure Shakib to attempt a cut which he edged to Latham. He finished Bangladesh’s top scorer on 64 off 68 balls, and Bangladesh were 151-4.
With the runs still coming slowly, Mithun on 26 tried to force the action by taking a couple of steps down the track. Henry responded with a short ball, which Mithun tried to hook. The ball went high into the air and de Grandhomme kept his eye on it to secure New Zealand’s fifth wicket for 179.
Bangladesh lost another batsman to make a start when Mahmudullah toe-end the disciplined Santner to Williamson in the 43rd over, with Bangladesh 197-6.
As Bangladesh attempted to finish with a flurry, Mosaddek on 11 attempted a big-hit off Boult, which he skied into the air, and was caught by Guptill.
Mehidy was also on the attack, in the penultimate over, as he shimmied down the pitch to Boult, who replied with a short ball at the body. The batsman went for the hook, but feathered one through to Latham.
In the final over Henry took two wickets in consecutive balls. The first was that of captain Mortaza, caught by Boult and third man. The second was that of Shaifuddin, whose middle stump was knocked over. As a result, Bangladesh were bowled all out for 244 for 49.2 overs.
Requiring 245 to win, New Zealand made a blistering start, scoring at seven runs an over, in the first five overs. However in the first ball of the sixth over, Bangladesh’s star all-rounder Shakib struck with his first ball. Guptill was the victim who tried to hit him for six, but was caught by Tamim at long on.
After a Munro six, Shakib thought that he had trapped Kane Williamson lbw on his first ball. Desperate for a breakthrough, they requested the review but it showed that the ball was missing leg stump.
Shakib brought more hope to Bangladesh with his second wicket. Opener Munro hit the ball into the legside but it was in the air to midwicket, where Mehidy pounced to take the catch.
This brought Ross Taylor to the crease who played the match-winning innings for New Zealand. He and Williamson put on a partnership of 105 and restored stability to Kiwis’ run chase.
Kane Williamson, usually known for his big-hitting, played the anchor role. A true captain’s innings, his 40 runs off 72 balls included only one four, as he and Taylor ran the hard yards. Taylor on the other hand hit 9 fours in his knock.
But if New Zealand were now supposed to go on to win the game with ease, nobody showed the script to Bangladesh. And Mehidy Hasan, who had made the brilliant catch earlier, was now going to be promoted to a starring role.
In the 32nd over, Mehidy took two huge wickets to bring Bangladesh right back into the match. Williamson hit one in the air to mid wicket where he was caught by Mosaddek. Latham also went for a big hit and was caught out at deep square leg for a duck.
Bangladesh applied pressure with a few tights overs but still needed wickets. When they got the biggy of Ross Taylor for 82, and with the score now at 192-5, Bangladesh were now able to believe.
New Zealand added another 26 runs and again looked like they were on their way to victory, with Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham at the helm heading into the final powerplay. But both were about to fall in consecutive overs to set up a dramatic finish.
De Grandhomme pushed a slower ball bouncer from Shaifuddin to keeper Mushfiqur in the 43rd. And in the 44th, Neesham was caught out chipping Mosaddek straight to Sarkar at long off. With the score at 218-7, it set up a tense finish to the match.
Santner, who bowled so well, came in to play a blinder. But not before Henry had his middle stump knocked over as he played across the line of a full toss from Shaifuddin.
A boundary each from Santner and Ferguson clinched the nail-biting finish for New Zealand.
It was another fantastic advert for the Cricket World Cup as the audience were captivated by the tension and drama.
Bangladesh’s bowlers delivered today and that was a great team performance in the field. It was the batting that let them down today. They have proved in both of their matches at this edition of the Cricket World Cup that they are a team to be reckoned with.
New Zealand squeezed over the finish line like an experienced team that knows how to win matches and tournaments. They are often go under the radar because they are not one of the big-name teams. Their pace attack is going to be a threat for opposing batting line ups. At this stage, they look like they will qualify for the semi-finals.
All images courtesy of ICC Cricket World Cup Twitter account