The joy knew no bounds as the players and support staff bolted to the middle of the Senwes Park ground waving the national flag and dancing all the way. Commentators showered praises on Bangladesh’s young cricketers for creating a historic moment for the cricket-crazy nation once Shamim Hossain drove a fuller ball from Beckham Wheeler-Greenall towards mid-on for the winning boundary in Potchefstroom yesterday.
The reason was simple: Bangladesh Under-19s created a small piece of history for the country in South Africa by reaching their first ever ICC U19 Cricket World Cup final with a resounding six-wicket victory over their New Zealand counterparts to book a clash with India Under-19s in the final on Sunday.
Mahmudul Hasan Joy was the man of the special occasion as the young batsman hit a swashbuckling hundred to steer his side past New Zealand’s 211 runs with 34 balls and six wickets remaining. The right-hander smote 13 sweetly-timed boundaries during his 127-ball 100.
Akbar Ali’s side once again proved why they are considered the most mature Bangladesh youth team ever as they continued their dominance over their New Zealand counterparts after a 4-1 series victory in New Zealand last year.
In a clinical performance, Bangladesh did very little wrong after captain Akbar Ali decided to bowl first at the toss. Bowlers put in a disciplined effort and pacer Shoriful Islam was the pick of the bowlers with three for 45 runs. Spinners complimented the lanky paceman perfectly. Off-spinner Shamim Hossain took two wickets for 31 runs, left-arm spinner Hasan Murad claimed two for 45 and another left-arm spinner Rakibul Hasan picked up one for 35.
In chase, Bangladesh lost their openers early, but Joy and Towhid Hridoy took the game away from New Zealand sharing 68 runs for the third wicket. The equation was skewed in their favour when Hridoy got out for 40 runs but Shahadat Hossain (40 not out) joined Joy to make a historic date with neighbours India in what is effectively a rematch of the Asia Cup final last year for these U-19 teams.
Now, 2020 can be a fantastic year in the annals of Bangladesh cricket if the youth team continue their merry run at the ICC U-19 World Cup final on Sunday.