Eleventh over into Bangladesh’s innings, one of the four floodlight towers at Eden Gardens had gone off, forcing a 15-minute stoppage. This venue has had a history of such bloopers – during the 2008 IPL fixture between Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers and the India-Sri Lanka ODI in 2009.
Bangladesh’s batting in this game, however, was even more deplorable. Yes, the pitch was difficult. The ball was not coming on to the bat. Variable bounce made things tougher. Still, 70 all out – their lowest-ever in T20s – in 15.4 overs to lose the game by 75 runs barely had any justification. Ability to bounce back from reverses separates the men from the boys. Bangladesh did suffer a heartbreaking defeat against India three days ago. But getting over the shock was a test of their professionalism. Bangladesh failed miserably. The Tigers will return home tail between their legs, losing all four Super 10 matches, despite promising much at the start.
Rahman’s effort goes vain
Mustafizur Rahman was a glorious exception. The left-arm seamer returned with his career best 5/22 in T20 internationals but more than his wickets, it was his discipline that stood out. Only one four and a six had been scored off him in his four overs, Mustafizur was that accurate. As Ross Taylor put it, the surface didn’t have a blade of grass and Mustafizur mixed things up intelligently to outwit the batters.
Debutant opener Henry Nicholls – in for rested Martin Guptill – was his first wicket – an off-cutter that went through the gate. He came back for his second spell to get rid of a well-set Kane Williamson. The New Zealand captain was done in by another slower delivery as he went across the crease to play a lap, losing his off stump in the process. Mustafizur returned at the death to dismiss Grant Elliot and then, Mitchell Santner and Nathan McCullum in successive balls. It was a thoroughly deserved five-for, but the 20-year-old had been an aberration amid collective ineptitude.
Vital toss for Kiwis
New Zealand won a very good toss – their fourth on the bounce – and decided to bat first. The Blackcaps so far have been outstanding in reading the conditions and here they turned up with three spinners. They just needed a decent total on the board and Williamson’s 42 off 32 balls provided the platform. A 42-run partnership for the third wicket between Colin Munro and Taylor proved to be equally important. And once New Zealand got to 145 in 20 overs, they had the game in the bag.
But the meek surrender from Bangladesh was unexpected. They just lacked the stomach for a fight as New Zealand bowlers picked wickets for fun. Elliot (3/12) and Ish Sodhi (3/21) shared six between them. Towards the end, Bangladesh’s batting became almost farcical, getting sarcastic applause from about 20,000 fans even for leg-byes.
The Kiwis, on the other hand, were domineering. They are in the last four with an all-win record in the group phase. They have shown enough skill and tactical nous to emerge as prime title contenders. “I’m sure he (Martin Crowe) is looking down, enjoying the way we have played so far,” Taylor said.
So yet again, they head into the semifinals with a heady momentum. They seem to have all bases covered and will aspire to finally chase down that elusive crown, Will this be their time, finally?
Brief Scores: New Zealand 145/8 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 42, Colin Munro 35; M Rahman 5/22, Al-Amin Hossain 2/27) beat Bangladesh 70 in 15.4 overs (Grant Elliot 3/12, Ish Sodhi 3/21) by 75 runs.