Bangladesh made another big step towards a quarter final berth as their spinners tied down the Netherlands batsmen at Chittagong in their Group B encounter of the ICC Cricket World Cup. In another game, Pakistan got the better of Zimbabwe in a rain shortened Group A match at Pallekele to book their place in the quarter finals.
At Chittagong, Bangladesh lost the toss and were asked to field first by the Dutch captain Peter Borren. The Netherlands batsmen were tied down by some good bowling from Shafiul Islam. Once the spinners entered the scene, they started losing wickets. Only Ryan ten Doeschate provided any resistance with an unbeaten 53. The highest partnership for Netherlands was 34 between Doeschate and Alexei Kervezee. The Dutchmen lost four wickets through run outs as the Bangladesh fielders also shone. Abdur Razzak was the pick of the bowlers with 3/29 from 10 probing overs as the Netherlands folded for just 160 in the 47th over.
Bangladesh got a rude shock in their reply when Tamim Iqbal was bowled by a Mudassar Bukhari delivery that moved and straightened after pitching. Imrul Kayes and Junaid Siddique were cautious initially but opened up once they came to terms with the Dutch bowling. The partnership of 92 between Kayes and Siddique and 59 between Kayes and Shahriar Nafees were the key points of their chase. Even though there was a minor hiccup when they lost two quick wickets, Imrul Kayes stayed till the end to ensure Bangladesh got two points from the match.
The Netherlands will be once again disappointed with their batting effort. They could not break the shackles imposed on them by Shafiul and had no clue against the battery of spinners and lost wickets regularly. The bowling was tidy but 160 was a very low score to defend. With one more match left in the tournament against Ireland, the Dutchmen will hope they can put in their best foot forward like they did against England in their opening match.
Bangladesh will be happy that their prospect for a position in the last eight is still alive. Their bowlers were impressive and the batsmen had some valuable time in the middle. Tamim Iqbal’s inconsistency should be a worry though. A crucial game against South Africa on Saturday remains and the crowd at Mirpur will back their team to the hilt.
Pallekele witnessed a revival of sorts for Pakistan in their Group A match against Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat first despite the overcast conditions. The Pakistan seamers were quick to be among the wickets as Brendan Taylor, Regis Chakabva and Vusi Sibanda all departed in the space of 5.2 overs to leave Zimbabwe tottering at 13/3. However, Tatenda Taibu and Craig Ervine revived the innings with a 30 run partnership. A drive through covers was a delightful shot from Taibu while Ervine too hit a couple of lovely fours in the cover region off Umar Gul and Abdul Razzaq.
Taibu was dismissed in the 13th over and this brought the stubborn Greg Lamb to the crease. Ervine hit boundaries in consecutive overs off Wahab Riaz and Shahid Afridi but the partnership of 41 runs relied mostly on singles. Lamb was caught and bowled by Afridi and soon the first rain interruption came. The match was reduced to 43 overs a side when play resumed a while later. Zimbabwe lost Ervine soon after the resumption. But Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya carried Zimbabwe on to respectability before the second rain interruption which ended Zimbabwe’s innings at 151/7 in 39.4 overs.
Pakistan were then set a target of 162 runs in 38 overs under the Duckworth/Lewis method. The Zimbabwe bowlers kept things tight and got the wicket of Ahmed Shehzad as he tried to hit Ray Price out of the ground but missed the ball and was stumped. Mohammad Hafeez and the young Asad Shafiq carried the score to 99 before Hafeez fell to a good catch by Price fielding at first slip. Pakistan lost skipper Shahid Afridi in the next over as he lost his stumps in an attempt to hit the ball through the off side field.
However, Shafiq and Younis Khan ensured a comfortable win for Pakistan in the 35th over. With the win Pakistan makes the quarter finals along with New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka and the only interest in the remaining matches in Group A would be the final position that would determine the opponents of the quarter finalists.
Pakistan will take a few positives from the match. Notable is the performance of their seamers Gul and Razzaq even though the conditions suited them. Kamran Akmal was better behind the stumps but can improve. Asad Shafiq at No.3 is a good prospect for Pakistan. He had impressed in the past too whenever opportunities were given to him. They would do well to retain him at this position for the remaining matches in the tournament. The poor Shahzad should be dropped and Kamran Akmal should open the batting with Hafeez.
Zimbabwe made a poor decision at the toss and paid the price for that. Their batsmen were done in by good bowling that exploited the conditions. The rain delays meant that the target would be decided under the D/L method and the wickets that Zimbabwe lost proved crucial. Their bowling was good and they kept things tight but the match was out of their hands once the partnership between Hafeez and Shafiq strengthened. Zimbabwe will hope to end the tournament with a win over Kenya on Sunday.