Tigers devour Lions in epic battle
"One must desire something to be truly alive," said a great novelist.
The Bangladesh cricket team definitely was the perfect example of this belief after the way they bounced back against England in a dramatic and nail-biting game to keep their quarterfinals hopes alive in the ICC Cricket World Cup yesterday.
The thrilling two-wicket victory came through a valiant batting effort from number ten batsman Shafiul Islam who shared a 58-run partnership in a ninth wicket stand along with Mahmudullah Riyad to script one of the most fantastic victories for Bangladesh cricket.
With a run-a-ball 24 Shafiul became the real hero in the end as his effort hauled Bangladesh back from dead. When the lanky batsman came to the crease Bangladesh still needed 57 runs to win the game and with this scenario half of the stadium became empty but Riyad (21) and Shafiul staged a brilliant fightback to achieve the target of 226 runs with one over to spare. The fortunate ones who kept their hope alive till the very end erupted into joy once Riyad stuck a boundary through cover against Tim Bresnan in the last ball of the penultimate over.
Shakib Al Hasan's men dreamt against all the adversities after their heartbreaking defeat against West Indies and the dream was finally fulfilled through a clinical bowling and batting display in front of a capacity-crowd at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in the port city. The Tigers breathtaking victory also brought back enthusiasm amongst the millions cricket crazy fans in the country.
Chasing 225 runs, Bangladesh got off to a flying start courtesy of Tamim Iqbal's tremendous stroke-play but it was his partner Imrul Kayes who anchored the innings along with his skipper Shakib.
Bangladesh fell in trouble losing two quick wickets after Tamim's dismissal but Shakib joined man-of-the-match Imrul Kayes to associate 82-runs in the fourth wicket stand to revive the hopes but the innings again derailed when Kayes, who top scored with 60 off 100 balls with five boundaries, fell victim to a suicidal run out. The stadium was silenced when Shakib lost his temper and played on for 32 runs and after that an inspired spell from Ajmal Shahzad brought England back to the game. But there was something entirely written for this match and Shafiul and Riyad took away the game from the England team, who have produced exciting games all through the tournament.
Earlier, Lady Luck again favoured the Bangladesh captain as he won the toss for the fourth successive occasion in the tournament. The bowlers then did their job to endorse the captain's decision of bowling first and they did it quite pleasingly in a typical slow and low pitch despite a 109-run fourth wicket partnership between Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan giving the English side a fighting total of 225 runs; England's lowest total against Bangladesh.
Bangladesh used six bowlers and everybody including the two pacers Shafiul Islam and Rubel Hossain made contributions as none tried anything other than concentrating on line and length only but off-spinner Naeem Islam deserved some especial accolades for removing dangermen Andrew Strauss and Morgan, the left-hander who revived the England's hope of scoring a big total after his side lost three wickets for 53 runs.
It was not so easy for the batsman to play shots in this kind of wicket and except Morgan, who smote eight boundaries during his 72-ball 63, none of the English batsmen looked comfortable and they lost their footing whenever they tried to execute shots.
All however began with a dramatic dismissal as wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim showed brilliant awareness to pull the stump out of the ground to complete the stumping of a flummoxed Matt Prior.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak's delivery drifted down the leg side and Prior missed it and dragged his back foot while Mushfiqur took off the bails but he was just safe and then he stayed out of the crease to give Mushfiqur the second opportunity.
Bangladesh seized control when Strauss offered a catch to Junaed Siddiqui at first slip and Mahmudullah Riyad got the wicket of Ian Bell as England tottered at 53 for three but Morgan joined Trott to recover the damage by playing sensibly as at one stage they passed 13 overs without any boundary to build up the innings.
Naeem then gave the much-needed breakthrough by removing Morgan, who landed at deep fine leg and after his dismissal opened the floodgate for Bangladesh as England lost their remaining six wickets for 63 runs.
A strong throw of Naeem from midwicket directly hit the stumps to dismiss Paul Collingwood and as well as put an end to the England innings that also confirmed Bangladesh finished with the momentum and it was carried on by the batsmen to make a happy ending to another Friday with only their second win over England.
President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina congratulated Bangladesh on their victory.