Tigers into semifinals
The fall of every Australian wicket and each boundary or six by the English batsmen was cheered on by the Tigers and millions of their fans. Finally, their dream came true as England knocked out Australia with a 40-run (D/L method) win in Birmingham to ensure Bangladesh's semifinal berth in the ICC Champions Trophy yesterday.
"It's a big thing for our cricket. It is an opportunity for us but I want to request everybody not to think we will go all the way to win the title," Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza told reporters at the team hotel in Cardiff last night.
The most successful Bangladesh captain also said that Champions Trophy is more challenging than the World Cup.
"It's a tournament of the top eight teams. It is more challenging than the World Cup. So, to be in the semifinal in this tournament is itself an achievement for us. It is also a reward for our continued effort towards improving our game. I think everyone has contributed to what we are today. The whole nation will be with us as they were in our desperate times and good times," the inspirational captain added in an impromptu press briefing.
He also said that they were not interested in who their semifinal opponents would be.
"An hour ago we were not sure whether we would be there [in the semifinals]. It can be any team and we are not thinking about that. Our focus for the next few days will be to prepare ourselves for the next game," said Mashrafe, whose team will head to Birmingham today.
Bangladesh had done their job on Friday by beating New Zealand and their fate hung in the balance yesterday. A win for Australia would have seen the Tigers fly home, but instead they will head to Edgbaston to play the Group B champions in the second semifinal on June 15 thanks to England's brilliant batting, powered by Ben Stokes's unbeaten century, after Mark Wood and Adil Rashid's four-wicket hauls.
Bangladesh's opponents in that semifinal are yet to be determined, with an intense finish to Group B set up today and tomorrow. India will play South Africa today and, as the only two teams in that group with positive net run rates, the winner will likely go on to face the Tigers.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka will square up the following day, with the winner most likely advancing to the first semifinal on June 14 -- against England, who were the first team to qualify for the semis.
Back to yesterday's match, Stokes's career-best 102 not out and captain Eoin Morgan's 87 powered the home side, who remain unbeaten in the tournament with three wins out of three.
England collapsed to 35 for three chasing 278 for victory before left-handers Morgan and Stokes changed the course of the game with a fourth-wicket partnership of 159.
Stokes's third one-day international century was his highest score at this level after the all-rounder had twice made 101.
When a second downpour ended the match with England 240 for four off 40.2 overs, the hosts were well ahead of the 205 they needed for a win under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method for rain-affected limited overs matches.
World Cup champions Australia had to win this match to join already-qualified England in the semi-finals of a tournament featuring the world's leading eight ODI teams after no result washouts in their previous two Group A fixtures.
But this defeat saw Bangladesh, who beat New Zealand by five wickets in Cardiff on Friday, into the last four instead.
Earlier, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid took four wickets apiece as Australia were held to 277 for nine after losing the toss.
Durham fast bowler Wood returned ODI best figures of four for 33 in his maximum 10 overs, while leg-spinner Rashid's return of four for 41 was his best against a Test nation at this level.
Travis Head's unbeaten 71 kept Australia in the game after earlier fifties from opener Aaron Finch (68) and captain Steve Smith (56).