Roaring Tigers lay down marker with facile win over South Africa

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Sports desk, June 02: Bangladesh got the early impetus in their quest to seal the semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup, as they began the journey in emphatic fashion, recording a comprehensive 21-run win over South Africa in their opening game at The Oval on Sunday.The Tigers posted their highest one-day international total of 330 for six, with Mushfiqur Rahim (78) and Shakib Al Hasan (75) putting on 142 before Mahmudullah added late impetus with an unbeaten 46.

Bangladesh then restricted South Africa to 309 for eight with fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman taking three wickets.

As the Eid-ul-Fitr is around the corner, the victory is served up an early Eid gift for the cricket crazy nation, who went berserk after the landmark win.

Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was instrumental in crushing victory, coming up with sterling performance-a crucial 84 ball-75 and 1-50 that also saw him quickest to reach the rare double of 5,000 runs and 250 wickets, a feat that was achieved by only four cricketers earlier.

Shakib added Bangladesh’s World Cup record 142-with Mushfiqur Rahim to help the side post mammoth 330-6, their highest ODI total eclipsing 329-6 against Pakistan in Dhaka in 2015 and only second score over 300 in the cricket’s biggest extravaganza.

South Africa fought hard but Bangladesh bowlers executed their plan perfectly to stall the Proteas momentum, with Mustafizur Rahman and Saifuddin to the fore alongside Shakib.

When Shakib stifled the opponent with measly bowling in the middle overs, the duo came up with fabulous death over bowling to curb the aggression of South Africa batsmen to hold them back to 309-8.

Unleashing his stock weapon cutters to precision, Mustafizur claimed 3-67 and Saifuddin played his part with 2-57.

Mushfiqur Rahim struck 80 ball-78 and Mahmudullah Riyad hammered a whirlwind 33 ball-46 not out towards the end to help the side post their first 300 plus score against South Africa and scripted Bangladesh’s fourth overall and second world Cup victory against the Proteas.

South Africa’s decision to bowl first backfired as Soumya Sarkar and Tamim Iqbal gave the team a fluent start, taking the Proteas bowlers with absolute ease. Tamim looked little rusty though, particularly after coming off from a wrist injury but Soumya Sarkar was at his destructive best.

He sent the South African new ball bowlers-Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi in receiving end, brining up boundaries more often than not that sent the packed Oval, largely occupied by the expatriate Bangladeshis, into wild jubilation.

The Oval in fact turned out to be Bangladeshi stadium practically, being entirely covered by red and green jersey to outnumber the South African fans. And Soumya gave them an occasion to exalt again and again.

Both of the openers were removed in quick succession-Andile Phehlukwayo (2-52) dismissed Tamim for 16 and Chris Morris (2-73) got the better of Soumya with short ball.

Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim came up with some rollicking performance, showing as to why Bangladesh are expecting to seal the semifinal berth despite the cricket pundits around the world didn’t endorse it.

The duo firstly set them on the back of some smart cricket, stealing singles and punishing the bad balls with utmost disdain. They made Proteas bowling attack clueless, who was one bowler short after Ngidi had to be taken off with hamstring injury.

Shakib first to raise his 43rd fifty with top-edge pull for extra cover boundary off Chris Morris and grew with confidence. Mushfiqur also brought up his 34th fifty with a boundary-through cut past cover point before he and Shakib combined for their fifth century partnership in ODI cricket.

As they looked more threatening, leg-spinner Imran Tahir (2-57) pegged back Bangladesh’s innings, crashing Shakib’s stump after he hit struck 75 off 84 with eight fours and a six, his best World Cup score and removed Mithun for 21.

With Mushfiqur playing with the mix of caution and aggression, Bangladesh were in dominant position. Hehlukwayo removed him after he scored 78 off 80 with eight fours. His dismissal came as shocker but Mahmudullah Riyad and Mosaddek Hossain Saikat propelled Bangladesh past 300 as they helped the side plunder 59 runs in last five overs.

South Africa needed highest successful chase in World Cup history to win the match but that was not to be. Captain Faf Du Plessis made 53 ball-62 to be the highest scorer for the side. JP Duminy and Aiden Markram scored identical 45.

They began watchfully with Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram playing risk-free cricket. The first breakthrough for Bangladesh came out of nothing when de Kock was run-out for 23 after a mix-up with Markram.

As captain Faf Du Plessis seemed to have quelled the tension with yet another blazing partnership with Markram, Shakib struck to remove the latter. The Tigers then tightened the noose when Mehidy Hasan Miraj claimed the prized scalp of Du Plessis.

David Miller (38), Rassie Van der Dussen (41) got the start but such was Bangladesh’s determination that they broke the shackle when it mattered most. JP Duminy battled hard till the end before Mustafizur dismissed him to virtually make the game over for South Africa.