New Zealand romped home to a three-wicket win to remain unbeaten in the 2015 cricket World Cup but not before being tested and challenged by a spirited Bangladesh in a Pool A encounter at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Friday.
Guided by Mahmudullah’s unbeaten 128, Bangladesh put up a challenging 288/7 in 50 overs at the small ground. In reply, the co-hosts reached home with seven balls to spare with opener Martin Guptill (105) scoring a century to help his side make it six wins in as many matches so far at the quadrennial event.
Defending 289, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan (4/55) clicked in the fifth over to pick Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum (8) and explosive batsman Kane Williamson (1) in a span of four balls. At this point, the Asian side were on top and a couple of more wickets would have totally turned the match in favour of Bangladesh.
However, Guptill and experienced Ross Taylor (56) stuck it out in the middle to put up a third-wicket 131-run stand which effectively took away the game from Bangladesh. In the process, Taylor became the fourth New Zealander to score more than 5,000 ODI runs.
Opener Guptill scored his sixth One-Day International (ODI) hundred which was studded with 11 boundaries and two sixes. While Guptill kept his strike rate well above run-a-ball, Taylor played a patient knock of 97-balls which included five boundaries.
Bangladesh clinched four more wickets after New Zealand crossed the 200-run mark but important knocks of 39 runs each from Grand Elliot and Corey Anderson kept the match in Kiwi hands.
In the end Daniel Vettori (16 not out) and Tim Southee (12 not out) played a 21-run eighth-wicket stand to see the Black Caps home before they play their quarterfinal against an undecided Pool B team at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on March 21.
Earlier, a brilliant unbeaten century by Mahmudullah (128) guided Bangladesh to post an impressive total in their final pool match.
Fresh from their historic victory against England, Bangladesh became the first side in the tournament to not be bowled out by the co-hosts as they put up the highest total by a side against New Zealand in this World Cup.
Put in to bat, Bangladesh did not start well and were struggling at 4/0 at the end of the fifth over. Kiwi pacers Tim Southee (0/51) and Trent Boult (2/56) were in their elements as they swung the new ball and beat the batsmen at will, also notching four maidens.
The Asian team had more to bother about when they lost both their openers (27/2), going down to Boult, by the 10th over. Boult is now the highest wicket-taker of the World Cup with 15.
However, Soumya Sarkar (51) and Mahmudullah struck an important 90-run third-wicket partnership to revive the Bangladeshi innings. The 22-year-old Sarkar scored his maiden half-century in only his sixth ODI.
Following the wicket of Sarkar, all-rounder Shakib (23) and wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim (15) scored small cameos which kept the innings going with Mahmudullah at the other end. Shakib and Mushfiqur gave away their wickets to left-arm pacer Anderson (2/43), which brought in Sabbir Rahman (40).
At 182/5, Madmudullah and Sabbir put up a significant 78-run sixth-wicket partnership to take Bangladesh well past the 250-run mark, the first time it has been done by a team against New Zealand in the World Cup.
Mahmudullah continued his fluent innings at the other end. The all-rounder, who scored a match-winning hundred against England on Monday, scored a successive century to give Bangladesh a chance to beat their formidable hosts. The right-arm bat smashed 12 boundaries and three sixes in his 123-ball innings.
Unless Scotland defeat Australia by a huge margin in the last Pool A game on Saturday, Bangladesh will take on Pool B toppers India in the quarterfinals at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19.
Brief scores: Bangladesh 288/7 in 50 overs (Mahmudullah 128 not out, Soumya Sarkar 51, Sabbir Rahman 40; Grand Elliot 2/27, Corey Anderson 2/43, Trent Boult 2/56) lost to New Zealand 290/7 in 48.5 overs (Martin Guptill 105, Ross Taylor 56; Shakib Al Hasan 4/55, Nasir Hossain 2/32).