Bangladesh lived up to the pre-tournament hype making a flying start to their World Cup 2019 campaign with a tricky 21-run win over South Africa in their opening match at the Oval on Sunday.
Sakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim struck fifties to guide Bangladesh to a record 330-6 and the bowlers complemented brilliantly to restrict South Africa to 309-8 in the record-filled game.
South Africa, who have now lost their second successive match, were in the contest until the last few overs before chocking under the pressure of required run rate.
The Proteas had to rewrite the history of World Cup if they were to deny Bangladesh after the Tigers posted their highest ever score in one-day internationals.
No team could ever knock off a target in excess of 328 runs in a World Cup game, meaning Bangladesh took the upper hand half way through the contest.
A run out of Quinton de Kock for 23 runs and Sakib’s record-setting wicket of Aiden Markram added to Bangladesh’s advantage.
But, with an accomplished batsman of the calibre of Faf du Plessis in the middle, South Africa were always in the contest.
Mehedi Hasan got some turn from The Oval pitch to bowl out du Plessis for 62, which made South Africa nervous and gave Bangladesh the belief that they could make it happen.
Still there was some danger in David Miller, but he never looked the batsman who destroyed Bangladesh in a Twenty20 match in 2017.
Mehedi took a brilliant reflex catch at point off Mustafizur Rahman to bring his demise after the batsman survived twice before due to dropped catches.
Mohammad Saifuddin conceded 22 runs in his first three overs but returned with a wicket-maiden to pile more pressure on South Africa as he bowled Van der Dussen for 41 runs.
Pressure grew on South Africa once Andile Phehlukwayo chose a full toss delivery off Saifuddin to slice it to Sakib, who dived forward to end the all-rounder’s innings on eight.
JP Duminy was reprieved on four after being given lbw initially off Mustafiz and continued to give Bangladesh headache until he dragged one off the same bowler on to his stumps to get dismissed for 45.
Duminy’s dismissal to Mustfiz, who earlier took the wicket of Chris Morris (10) and finished with 3-67, ended the competition in the game with South Africa still needing 47 off 18 balls while being a batsman short.
Bangladesh showed a similar team spirit with the bat earlier, when despite any player scoring 80 runs they broke a number of their scoring records.
Sakib and Mushfiq hit 75 and 78 runs respectively but more importantly they put 141 runs for the third wicket, the highest in their World Cup history, that set-up the base for their record score.
Some credit should also go to opening batsmen Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar, who put 60 runs in the opening stand to negotiate the initial threat after South Africa had put them in.
Tamim, who passed a late fitness test, was shaky understandably and could score just 16 but his mere presence allowed Soumya to bat with some aggression that left the South African bowlers unsettled.
A short ball from Morris that took some extra bounce forced Soumya to give a catch to de Kock after making 42 off 30 balls featuring nine fours.
It brought Sakib and Mushfiq together and the duo summoned all of their experience to forge a strong partnership and build pressure on the bowling side.
Imran Tahir, the oldest player of the World Cup at 40, bowled Sakib in his 100th ODI to break the partnership and Mushfiq soon picked out the extra cover fielder off Phehlukwayo.
Despite the untimely departure of Sakib and Mushfiq, Bangladesh did not suffer much as the lower-middle order utilised the foundation to take the score past 300-run and set-up a record target for South Africa.
Mahmudullah led Bangladesh’s batting charge in the final 10 overs when 86 runs were scored as he remained unbeaten on 46 off 33 balls while Mohammad Mithun (21) and Mosaddek Hossain (26) also played their part.
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