Bangladesh promised to fight fire with fire against South Africa’s attack and promptly proceeded to deliver, setting the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 alight with a thrilling performance in the closest game of the competition so far.
As per the ICC media press release, more than 600 runs were scored at the Oval, 330 of them by Bangladesh, who made a strong statement about their batting prowess.
This was Bangladesh’s highest ever ODI score, surpassing their previous best of 329/6 against Pakistan in Dhaka in April 2015, to upset third-ranked South Africa, who sit four places above them in the rankings.
It was only the fourth time Bangladesh have beaten South Africa in 22 ODIs and the second time at a World Cup, after their 67-run triumph in Providence in 2007.
Three players, all from Bangladesh, have been part of both games: Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mashrafe Mortaza. They were only minor contributors 12 years ago but were key to Bangladesh’s performance at the Oval.
While Mashrafe captained the team to a famous win, Shakib and Mushfiqur set it up. The experienced pair built on the opening batsmen’s 60-run foundation with a third-wicket partnership of 142, their fifth century-stand in ODIs to which they each contributed a half-century.
Shakib’s was his 43rd in limited overs’ internationals and came off 54 balls when he top-edged a pull shot off Chris Morris. He went on to become only the fifth all-rounder in history to reach 5000 runs and 250 wickets in ODIs, after Sanath Jayasuriya, Shahid Afridi, Jacques Kallis and Abdul Razzaq. Shakib is the quickest to these twin milestones in 199 games.
Mushfiqur hit his 34th ODI half-century off 52 balls and got there with a cut through point off Andile Phehlukwayo.
The numbers are important but equally impressive was Bangladesh’s aggressive approach South Africa’s pace battery. Bangladesh’s batsmen took on the short ball, found runs in the third man region and maintained a run rate of more than six an over throughout their innings.
They ramped that up significantly in the final 10 overs and scored 86 runs to propel their total over 300. Since the 2015 World Cup, Bangladesh have averaged 66 runs between the 40th and 50th over, the second-lowest among teams at this World Cup and their ability to accelerate at the Oval proved the difference between them and South Africa, who needed 103 runs in the last 10 overs and managed only 81.
Bangladesh’s batting performance was a testament to their steady progress since the last World Cup. In the intervening four years, Bangladesh have played 18 ODI series and won nine, including five consecutive home series against Pakistan, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, a home and away series over West Indies and a tri-series in Ireland, which included West Indies, immediately before this tournament.
They have also had the services of several international consultants including former South African batsman and coach, Neil McKenzie, who has been part of Bangladesh’s white-ball set-up since July 2018. Their fielding coach is Ryan Cook, son of former South African international Jimmy Cook, to whom some of Bangladesh’s sharpness in the field can be attributed.
The victory means that Bangladesh are the only one of the four subcontinent sides that have played so far to have won their opening match. India will play their first fixture on Wednesday in Southampton, against South Africa, who have yet to put points on the board at this World Cup.