Can the rule of five help Tigers rule Sophia?
12:00 AM, May 26, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:39 AM, May 26, 2019

Can the rule of five help Tigers rule Sophia?

On June 18, 2005, Aftab Ahmed smote Jason Gillespie for a canon-powered six over deep midwicket when seven were required off the last over, then calmly nudged a single to ensure that Bangladesh beat the mighty Australians by five wickets with four balls to spare.

On June 9, 2017, Mosaddek Hossain slashed a boundary to tie the bow on another famous win, which saw Bangladesh recover from 34 for four and chase down New Zealand's 265 with five wickets and 16 balls to spare and secure passage to a maiden Champions Trophy semifinal.

Both those encounters took place at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, Wales. The first one -- on the back of a sublime century by Mohammad Ashraful -- was one of the upsets of the decade and till then, given Australia's strength at the stage, arguably Bangladesh's best result. The second one, just under 12 years later, was proof positive -- through twin tons by Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad -- that Bangladesh had the talent to beat the best even when their backs are against the wall and in conditions that may appear unfavourable.

Habibul Bashar, who captained Bangladesh in their historic five-wicket win over Australia in 2005 at the same venue, posed yesterday alongside Khaled Mahmud in front of the picture of a jubilant Bangladesh after their maiden ODI win over Australia in 2005. Photo: BCB

Sophia Gardens is one of the few foreign venues where Bangladesh have a hundred per cent record and in that light it is fortunate for the Tigers that they are limbering up for the World Cup here. Ahead of their first World Cup game against South Africa at The Oval in London on June 2, Bangladesh will take on Pakistan here today in a World Cup warm-up before squaring off against India in their second warm-up at the same venue on Tuesday.

As the team train in Cardiff, they have among their midst the only man who was a participating witness to both those triumphs, and that it has gone under the radar speaks to the qualities of ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. In both Cardiff triumphs, he played a crucial yet low-profile role -- conceding just 33 runs for the wicket of Adam Gilchrist in 2005 and bowling economically (10 overs for 45) in the win over New Zealand.

To stretch the narrative a bit into numerology, the Australian triumph was the fifth match hosted by the venue, and Bangladesh won both matches by five wickets. Also, after the two warm-ups, when Bangladesh take on hosts England here on June 8, it will be their fifth competitive match at the venue. Of course, Mashrafe would not be counting on the stars and numbers, but given how impossible it has seemed to beat the top-ranked hosts, the Tigers would probably take any inspiration they can get their paws on.

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