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New Zealand defeats Bangladesh in drama-filled Cricket World Cup match

AP

Two unforced run out errors scarred Bangladesh’s loss to New Zealand in their drama-filled Cricket World Cup match on Wednesday at the Oval.

At the center of both was Mushfiqur Rahim, the wicketkeeper-batsman playing his fourth World Cup.

Mushfiqur was dug in with his old friend Shakib Al Hasan; they were unruffled in reaching yet another 50 partnership when Mushfiqur pushed a ball into the covers and tried to steal a single Shakib agreed with. Then Shakib changed his mind, and Mushfiqur was far from his crease when the bails were smacked off.

Mushfiqur, patently annoyed, departed for 19 at 110-3, and Bangladesh never recovered as it was bowled out for a sub-par 244 in the 50th over.

The winning target in the day-night encounter was gettable despite a fresh pitch that was slower than expected, but it would have been far tougher if Kane Williamson had been run out on 8 and New Zealand slumped to 60-3.

The captain was more than a foot from safety, but video showed Mushfiqur knocked the bails off with his right arm before he caught the ball, so Williamson stayed.

He turned the lifeline into a slow-but-safe 40 in a rejuvenating stand of 105 with Ross Taylor. After Taylor departed for 82, New Zealand’s cruise turned bumpy, and they scrambled over the finish line at 248-8 and rose to the top of the standings with two wins from two matches.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza defended Mushfiqur.

“I don’t think we need to go after him because it could happen to anybody,” Mashrafe said. “He was also trying hard to get him (Williamson). He wants the ball, and suddenly (the wickets) hit his elbow. Those mistakes always happen.”

After blowing away Sri Lanka by 10 wickets, New Zealand was strained by the tension of trying to finish off Bangladesh. The 17 balls to spare hide how hard it became to win.

New Zealand was walking home at 218-5 in the 43rd over, but the loss in consecutive overs of allrounders Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham left tailenders Mitchell Santner and Matt Henry at the crease, both on 0.

With the pro-Bangladeshi crowd whipped up by their team suddenly back in the hunt, any hint of an out was wildly cheered.

Santner and Henry coolly combined for 20 runs in less than three overs. Henry was bowled for 6 with New Zealand needing seven to win. Santner and Lockie Ferguson stood firm and the end came in a rush thanks to two wides, a Ferguson tickle to the third man boundary, and a Santner boundary through the covers.

“The boys held their nerve, that’s all you can ask for,” Taylor said. “We would have loved to have been a bit more clinical but we were put under pressure. Credit Bangladesh, they fought all the way to the end.”

The Kiwis improved to 5-0 against Bangladesh in World Cup history, batting second each time. But they started their chase as nervously as they finished it.

Shakib, the third Bangladeshi to reach 200 ODIs, removed openers Martin Guptill (25) and Colin Munro (24), and should have had Williamson run out while he was bowling.

Meanwhile, Taylor, while on 10, survived being run out by a hair. Later, Neesham just slid home, too.

“We were very lucky with Kane,” Taylor admitted. “I was in by one centimeter and Jim by half a centimeter. It’s cricket. I don’t look too much into it.”

Bangladeshis packed the Oval in hopes of a double celebration beside Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, but they had little to cheer in the first half of the match.

Their side was shackled by the New Zealand bowlers. Shakib top scored with 64. He was the only batsman to make more than 30.

The New Zealand battery, backed up by smart fielding, was disciplined and Henry returned 4-47. Trent Boult earned a pair, while Ferguson, de Grandhomme, and Santner bagged one wicket each. They deserved them.

Bangladesh’s innings turned on Mushfiqur’s run out.

He and Shakib struggled initially, three days after their record century stand in the win against South Africa. Overs 10-20 gave up only 33 runs.

Shakib broke out when he saw off medium-pacer Neesham with three consecutive boundaries. He and Mushfiqur casually brought up yet another 50 partnership when Mushfiqur ran himself out on 19. Shakib agreed to run but changed his mind when he saw Martin Guptill swoop on the ball. Mushfiqur wasn’t happy to be stranded by his partner.

Shakib was shaky between the wickets. He almost ran out Tamim Iqbal in the 12th over, and himself in the 22nd.

He compensated somewhat with his third half-century in four matches, but when he departed the team’s run rate dropped below 5 and stayed there.