Bangladesh cricket has been on the upswing ever since reaching the quarterfinal of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. They won bilateral series against South Africa, Pakistan, India and the West Indies while heading into the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, they won the tri-series final featuring West Indies which was their first major international trophy. Their rise was confirmed in their opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at The Oval. Shakib Al Hasan’s all-round brilliance, combined with his record stand with Mushfiqur Rahim and disciplined bowling gave Bangladesh a stunning 21-run win against South Africa at The Oval on Sunday. This was Bangladesh’s second win in the ICC World Cup against the Proteas, having famously won the 2007 edition clash in the West Indies.
South Africa inserted Bangladesh in and they looked to exploit the early advantage on the Oval deck but Soumya Sarkar had other ideas. The left-hander looked in good touch and smashed five consecutive boundaries off Lungi Ngidi while Tamim Iqbal gave him solid support. The 60-run opening stand gave Bangladesh a great platform but South Africa fought back. Andile Phehlukwayo got rid of Tamim for 16 while Morris accounted for Sarkar with a short ball for 42.
That bought Shakib and Rahim, two of Bangladesh’s stalwarts out in the middle and they proceeded to consolidate Bangladesh’s position. Rahim started off with a boundary and Shakib broke the shackles with a top-edged six off Morris. Rahim and Shakib rotated the strike and both batsmen notched their 34th and 43rd fifties respectively. The mounting partnership increased concern for South Africa, who were missing Ngidi’s services as he was nursing a left hamstring injury.
The partnership of 142 between Shakib and Rahim was Bangladesh’s highest in the World Cup, going past 141 set by Mahmudullah and Rahim in the 2015 World Cup clash against England in Adelaide. The stand ended when Shakib (75) missed a sweep off Tahir and was bowled. Mohammad Mithun launched into Aiden Markram with a six and a four as the fifth bowling option for South Africa struggled.
When Rahim (78) and Mithun (21) fell in quick succession, Bangladesh struggled in the initial death overs as they scored just 23 runs in seven overs. Mosaddek Hossain broke the shackles with two consecutive fours off Phehlukwayo while Mahmudullah and Mosaddek hit three boundaries in the 47th over bowled by Morris. Mahmudullah ended with a flourish and his unbeaten 46 off 33 balls helped Bangladesh register their highest score not just in World Cups but also in ODIs, beating their previous record of 329 against Pakistan in Dhaka in 2015.
In response, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram started off confidently but Markram sold De Kock down the river when he stuttered for a run off Mehidy Hasan and was run-out by Rahim for 23. Faf du Plessis and Markram steadied the ship but Bangladesh was bowling in the right areas as they made run-scoring tough. Du Plessis eased the pressure with three fours in two overs off Mashrafe Mortaza while Markram dropped anchor. South Africa made good progress when Shakib decided to change the course of the match yet again.
Shakib got rid of Markram (45) with a quicker arm ball and his 250th wicket put him in an elite list of all-rounders. David Miller started cautiously and du Plessis notched up his fifty with an inside out lofted shot off Mosaddek. Just when a partnership was building, Mehidy Hasan got rid of the South Africa skipper for 62 as he missed a slog. Miller and Rassie van der Dussen tried to play aggressively but the asking rate mounted.
When Miller fell for 38 to Mustafizur, van der Dussen and JP Duminy represented South Africa’s last hope. Van der Dussen launched Mustafizur for a six and a four to rekindle hope but when he missed an ungainly slog to be bowled by Mustafizur for 41, there was too much pressure on Duminy. Bangladesh held their nerve and they secured a famous win by 21 runs. In another age, this would have been the upset of the tournament. However, in 2019, Bangladesh’s victories are no longer considered upsets or a victory by the minnow. Such has been their rise.