Amazing! Unbelievable! The Tigers roared at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff in a more spectacular fashion than 12 years ago. This is called coming of age. They looked dead and buried when they were brought to their knees at 12 for three and then 33 for four, chasing New Zealand's 265 for eight in what was a potential quarterfinal of the Champions Trophy.
Game over? Not quite yet. Out in the middle were Bangladesh's two members of the fantastic five -- Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad. The problem with Shakib is that he does not curb his attacking instinct in whatever situation his team is in. Mahmudullah had just hit some sort of form in the Ireland tri-series but could not still be the sitting duck that he was in New Zealand against pace earlier this year.
But sit tight. The tournament, which has so far been dogged by rain, has already got underway with two spectacular results. Pakistan beat top-ranked South Africa and Sri Lanka chased down India's imposing 321 in some style over the last couple of days.
So the caravan needed continuity and something more special. It was really something special that Shakib and Mahmudullah delivered after that opening burst from the Kiwi pace bowlers. Shakib scored an imperious 114 and Mahmudullah struck a magnificent 102 not out as Bangladesh eclipsed the Black Caps' 265, which nobody believed could be possible after that early mayhem.
The fifth wicket partnership of 224 runs between the left-right combination was something heavenly in the context of Bangladesh cricket and something extraordinary in the context of world cricket. It was the highest partnership for any wicket in the annals of Bangladesh's ODI history and the second highest in the Champions Trophy.
But who cares for stats. It's a partnership the 6000-odd Bangladesh fans in green will remember as long as they live. And, would you believe it, the partnership did not have a single blemish? Shakib is always regarded as a special breed and his authoritative innings -- mixed with caution and aggression -- was a truly special one. The southpaw showed signs of hitting form against Australia on June 5 before his innings was cut short by an injudicious call from umpire Nigel Llong.
Yesterday, he did not allow any delivery to hit his pads. It was only on 99 when he became ultra aggressive. Mahmudullah on the other hand was as cool as ice. The right-hander also showed that he was no longer a sitting duck against short-pitched deliveries.
They way they complemented each other in that magnificent stand appeared as if they wanted their scores to stayed in synchrony. They reached their 90s almost at the same time, strolled through their 90s also at the same pace. They were actually tied on 98, before Shakib took a single and completed his seventh one-day century and probably the most memorable with a six over long-leg. It was a top-edge off James Milne. Shakib was in murderous mood after completing his ton off 111 balls.
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That six left Bangladesh needing another 17 runs off 24 balls. Shakib was in a hurry to finish the chase -- hitting Trent Boult for consecutive boundaries. He lofted the first one over mid-off and the next one through the covers. Thankfully he did not connect the next ball -- he was bowled -- because the way he was going about his business it would have denied Mahmudullah a deserved century.
When Shakib departed, Bangladesh needed nine runs off 21 deliveries. Mosaddek Hossain dabbed a couple followed by a single down to third man, which allowed Mahmuddlah to complete his century. He did it in style, pulling a Boult short ball down to the square-leg boundary for four.
Two runs off 18 balls. It was time to bask in a memorable victory, and the celebration started in Cardiff and all the way to Bangladesh when Mosaddek steered the second ball from Milne to the third man boundary for four. Bangladesh posted 268 for five and won the game by five wickets with 16 balls to spare.
Will this win guarantee Bangladesh's place in the semifinals. Will England be able to beat Australia today? Let's forget about the future. Let's celebrate a magnificent victory fashioned by two magnificent Tigers -- Shakib and Mahmudullah.