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To be part of cricket folklore

  • Published at 07:53 pm June 11th, 2017
To be part of cricket folklore

Habibul Bashar, former captain of Bangladesh, told the team to play freely.

Don’t know whether they paid heed to this advice but, on Friday, this team showed what they are capable of in 50-over format. They played with guile, with panache, and they were fearless.

This was a day when everything went according to plan for Bangladesh apart from the start of both the innings. It was a magical day that settled the fact, again, that Mashrafe will remain as the best leader in Bangladesh cricket forever.

His reading of the match situation, intelligence, and the master-stroke of bringing Mosaddek at a key moment of the match when things could have run away, was simply majestic.

Take a bow captain, take a bow.

The opening bowling spell was not good. The Kiwis were running away with their run rate till Rubel, Shakib, and Taskin put the brakes on. Rubel’s precision was exhilarating while Taskin’s pace put the Kiwis at unease.

Fielding and taking catches were not that bad either. Pressure started to build and Kane Williamson succumbed to it and got himself run-out, one of the key moments of the Kiwi innings.

A turning point

Despite that, the Kiwis reached 200 at around the 40-over mark with plenty of batting to come. Then came the master-stroke of bringing in Mosaddek. His three wickets along with Mustafiz getting his “Fizz” back, restricted the Kiwis to 265 runs.

The Bangladeshi supporters felt that the set target score (266) was achievable.

Wrong.

At 33/4, even the ardent Bangladeshi supporter would never have thought they could pull it off. Kiwi fast bowlers were on fire in the sunny, cold, and windy Cardiff afternoon. The ball was zipping and swinging over 90 miles an hour. Particularly demoralising was when the lynchpin Mushfiq was bowled, middle stump uprooted.

At 33/4, even the ardent Bangladeshi supporter would never have thought they could pull it off. Kiwi fast bowlers were on fire in the sunny, cold, and windy Cardiff afternoon

The Midas touch

Mahmudullah Riyad walked out and seemewd to be “in the zone” from the start.

Right off the bat (pun totally unintended), he launched a ball to mid-wicket boundary which was equally scintillating and audacious but just seemed to set the tone of what was to come in the next few hours.

Shakib’s batting is hardly elegant. His style is that of a street-fighter’s, a la Allan Border.

But Mahmudullah has always had a touch of class and elegance when he bats. On this particular afternoon, he was sublime. His on-side strokes were breath-taking.

In one particular off-drive, when he bisected the mid-off fielders with the ball zipping past, it was pure Zaheer Abbas.

Running between wickets was not bad either, despite several close calls which put the crowd under pressure, Shakib and Riyad didn’t care. They seemed to be in a world of their own, and whatever Kiwis were throwing at them -- along with their brilliant fielding -- was not enough to leave them flustered.

In the end, the cricketing world had another new folklore to add to its history. And I was lucky to be the witness of the memorable victory.

Thank you Tigers.

Saif Khan is a freelance contributor.

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