It was an exceptional year in many ways for Bangladesh, but no moment will shine brighter for its fans than the joyous scenes of the thrilling victory that knocked England out of the World Cup on a balmy night at the Adelaide Oval
On March 9 (Monday) at the Adelaide Oval, there was no full house, but there was no lack of atmosphere as nearly 12,000 fans were treated to wonderful entertainment in a match of yo-yoing fortunes.
Bangladesh sensed an opportunity to make it to the knockout stages of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 for the first ever time. England, battling to stay alive in the competition, would just not go away. In the end, a maiden century by Mahmudullah – also the first by a Bangladeshi in World Cups – and his record 141-run fifth-wicket stand with Mushfiqur Rahim counted for as much as Rubel’s 4 for 53.
Bangladesh’s 275 for 7 upon being put in seemed sufficient at various stages, but England, 132 for 5 and 238 for 8, somehow dug deep to stay in the hunt till the very end. That end came when Rubel cleaned up Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the space of three deliveries in the penultimate over as England was bowled out for 260, triggering scenes of jubilation in the middle and in the stands. Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes took England to the brink with a counter-attacking stand of 75 for the seventh, but Bangladesh prevailed.
In all the tension, Tamim Iqbal put down Woakes at long-on with 20 required, but it didn’t matter. Rubel was there to apply the finishing touches, Bangladesh primed now for a March 19 date with India at the MCG.
The obvious stars of the Bangladesh batting were Mahmudullah and Rahim, married to sisters, but no less crucial was the role of Soumya Sarkar, the young left-hand batsman. Sarkar unveiled the early flourish alongside a solid, stolid Mahmudullah to repel England, who threatened to run away with the game through Anderson.
Relishing the pitch having sweated under the covers – it drizzled at various stages through the morning though by the toss the clouds had lost the battle to the sun – Anderson looked like the master swing bowler that he is. Feasting on the hesitancy of Tamim and Imrul Kayes, Anderson elicited outside edges from both openers into the slip cordon so that inside the first 13 deliveries of the match, Bangladesh had slipped to 8 for 2.
Another wicket at that stage would have left Bangladesh in serious strife. England, charged up, came hard, but Sarkar and Mahmudullah remained unruffled. As the pitch settled down, Sarkar stood up tall and hit crisply through the off side off front foot and back during a stabilising stand of 86 in which the more experienced Mahmudullah was content to play within himself.
Against the run of play, Jordan produced a sharp lifter that saw off Sarkar, and for the second time in the innings, Bangladesh lost two in quick succession when Moeen Ali accounted for the big fish. Shakib walked out to huge cheers from a decidedly pro-Bangladesh crowd, but lasted only six deliveries, leaving his team at 99 for 4.
The first objective of the fifth-wicket pair, with nearly 30 overs remaining, was to ensure that there was no further immediate damage. That was accomplished with no little success. Apart from the occasional meaty blow, Mahmudullah was again content working the gaps, leaving Rahim to take on the role of the enforcer.
The pair was fully in command and rattled the English players. Mahmudullah eventually fell after his century in the only likely way, run out as tiredness caught up with him, but by then he had showcased the adhesiveness that allowed Rahim to take on an attacking role. Rahim continued to bat with impunity before becoming Stuart Broad’s first victim since England’s opening game against Australia. But by then, he had done his bit.
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