Playing his first competitive international game in nearly seven months after knee surgery, Kane Williamson did what he does best - shepherd a tricky chase with a masterly knock (78 retired hurt, 108b, 8x4, 1x6) to guide New Zealand to an eight-wicket win over Bangladesh here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.
In pursuit of 246, the Black Caps lost opener Rachin Ravindra early before Williamson and Devon Conway weathered a fine spell of pace bowling by the two left-arm seamers Mustafizur Rahman and Shoriful Islam.
Williamson was cautious at the start before he wielded his trademark strokes on an uncharacteristic Chepauk pitch that was more friendly to the seamers with bounce and pace. He started with a cut, over point before a backfoot punch through covers off Shoriful to get going after being two off 19 balls at one point.
From there on, it was a typical Williamson knock, with deft late cuts, paddles over fine leg and use of feet to loft Shakib Al Hasan over the leg-side.
HIGHLIGHTS | New Zealand vs Bangladesh ICC World Cup
At the other end, Conway did his bit with a cameo of 45 before he was trapped leg-before trying to reverse-sweep Shakib.
However, Williamson retired hurt when he copped a blow on his left thumb from a throw at the bowler’s end while completing a single. He hung around for an over before walking off in pain, but not before he had put his side firmly in the driver’s seat with a 108-run stand (109 balls) with Daryl Mitchell for the third wicket.
Mitchell rode his luck initially - his mistimed shots either falling short or fielders unable to catch it on the ropes and stay inside - to finish with an unbeaten 89 (67b 6x4, 4x6) to seal New Zealand’s third consecutive win of the World Cup.
Earlier, electing to field first, New Zealand restricted Bangladesh to 245 for nine, thanks to Lockie Ferguson’s (three for 49) fiery spell of fast bowling in which he used the short-pitched stuff to good effect.
The Tigers started on the wrong foot when Litton Das charged down to Trent Boult and flicked the very first ball straight to the throat of Matt Henry at fine leg, who took a fine catch after initially overrunning it. But Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Tanzid Hasan quickly got the innings back on track by going for their shots and found four boundaries each.
The Kiwis then got on top of proceedings when Ferguson struck twice. He first had Tanzid, flicking a half-volley to square leg before bouncing out Miraz, caught at fine leg attempting a pull.
Soon, Bangladesh found itself at 56 for four when Najmul Hossain Shanto was caught at short-midwicket trying to work off-spinner Glenn Phillips through the leg-side only to get a leading edge as the delivery stopped a bit after pitching.
Walking in at six, Mushfiqur bailed his side out and looked in complete control, taking on the bowlers right from the moment he walked in.
He started by slog-sweeping and reverse-sweeping Glenn Phillips for a six and boundary one over. Even when challenged by the barrage of short-pitch stuff from the quicks, the former Bangladesh skipper used the late cuts through slips and upper-cuts over third-man to find boundaries easily.
Mushfiqur and skipper Shakib (40) stitched a 96-run stand for the fifth wicket off 108 balls to get the Asian team back on track.
But Shakib, in a bid to get a move on, perished trying to pull Ferguson one time too many times. After top-edging the quick for a six over fine leg, he tried to repeat the shot off the next ball only to scoop it to the keeper Tom Latham, who took a brilliant catch running behind.
Mushfiqur’s innings ended when he was bowled by a Matt Henry off-cutter that kept low. Later, Mahmadullah’s unbeaten 41 helped Bangladesh get to just about par score, but it was not enough to avoid a second straight defeat.
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