Brave BanglaThough New Zealand ended the group stage without losing a single match, they faced a scare against the committed Bangladeshi team. The hero of the match against England Mahmudullah scored another century and with useful contributions coming from Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman, helped Bangladesh reach a commendable 288 against a team that is being widely regarded as tournament favorite. Then when they came on to bowl, Bangladesh disposed of the dangerous McCullum cheaply. They also sent back Kane Williamson as the score read 33/2 in the fifth over. But Martin Guptill held on tenaciously to test the patience of the Bangladesh bowlers. The New Zealand opener recorded his first World Cup century that was to prove decisive. Though Grant Elliot, Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson propped up New Zealand in later stages, Bangladesh kept up the pressure until the very end. After Anderson got out, it was finally left to the veteran Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee to take New Zealand to a hard-earned three-wicket victory in the 49th over. With this victory, New Zealand also ended their five-year losing streak against Bangladesh.


Brendon McCullum got lucky with the coin toss but he asked Bangladesh to bat first. It looked a great decision as Bangla openers found the going difficult against Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Daniel Vettori. Boult began with two consecutive maidens and Southee conceded just 4 in his three overs. At the end of 5 overs, Bangladesh were 4/0. Then Boult came up with a wicket maiden to claim Imrul Kayes. It looked like a classic set-up as Boult first scared Kayes with a short-pitched rising ball and then bowled the next one on length. Kayes was all at sea as the ball sneaked through the gate to peg back his off stump. After a rather torturous 23 minutes at the crease, Kayes must have been happy to return to the pavilion. Boult’s figures of 3-3-0-1 had a dream-like quality. However, with the arrival of Soumya Sarkar, things brightened a bit for Bangladesh as Boult’s next over cost 7 runs. Tamim Iqbal had struck a boundary but his approach remained tentative. After flicking Boult to another boundary in the 10th over, Tamim edged him to Anderson in the second slip. Bangladesh had made a bad beginning as their score read 29/2 after 10 overs. Tamim’s fall brought the mercurial Mahmudulah and that brought about a transformation. Sarkar and Mahmudullah added 90 runs for third wicket before Sarkar fell to Vettori in 28th over as he ended up top-edging to Anderson. With Mahmudullah still around, 34 runs were added for the fourth wicket and 31 for the fifth. But the best phase of Bangladesh batting arrived, when Sabbir Rahman joined Mahmudullah. As the senior partner allowed Sabbir to have his way, runs began to flow. Mahmudullah completed his second consecutive century in 47th over from McClenaghan, who yielded 16 runs. 78 runs were scored for the 7th wicket and Bangladesh reached 260, when Sabbir got out in the 48th over. With Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah added another 27 and the Bangla innings closed at a competitive 288/7 at the end of 50.


Coming on to chase 288 required for victory, McCullum allowed Martin Guptill to score against Bangla bowlers. But when the skipper went for a mighty heave himself at Shakib-Al-Hasan in the 5th over, he only managed to find Soumya Sarkar close to the ropes. Bangladesh were highly relieved to get rid of the most dangerous batsman in CWC 2015. Shakib struck another blow in the same over, when he found Kane Williamson slicing at an off-side delivery to be caught behind. But afterwards Guptill and Ross Taylor added 131 for the third wicket to take the total to 164/3, before Guptill departed for a nicely compiled 105 off 100 balls. It was Guptill’s first World Cup hundred and he celebrated by punching his fist in air. Bangladesh bowlers applied pressure to slow down New Zealand at this point and Taylor and Grant Elliot could only add 46 in the next 9 overs, before Elliot fell. In the 42nd over, Taylor also departed but Anderson and Luke Ronchi added 28 for the sixth wicket. New Zealand were still 42 runs away from the target with 5.2 overs left. In the 48th over, Anderson was bowled by Nasir Hossain and the target was 20 runs away with 14 balls remaining. There were anxious moments in the New Zealand camp but Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee managed to squeeze New Zealand through with a 3-wicket win in the 49th over.