Sakib al Hasan struck his second century in as many matches as Bangladesh crushed West Indies by seven-wicket to keep their hopes of semi-final alive in the World Cup 2019 in UK on Monday.
Sakib hit an unbeaten 124 off 99 balls under pressure to help the Tigers reach 322-3 comfortably in 41.3 overs after West Indies posted 321-8 at Somerset County Club Ground in Taunton.
This is the highest ever successful run chase for Bangladesh in one-day international, overtaking their 322-4, which came in response to Scotland’s 318-4 in the previous World Cup in New Zealand’s Nelson.
Playing his first match in the tournament, Liton Das turned aide-in-chief for Sakib, making 94 off 69 balls and sharing 189 runs with the all-rounder in an unbroken fourth wicket stand that did not allow any late drama in what could have been a tricky run chase.
Bangladesh were staring at danger once Mushfiqur Rahim flicked a ball of Oshane Thomas down the leg at the back to get dismissed for one, leaving the side on 133-3.
But Sakib, who scored 121 runs in Bangladesh’s previous match against England, kept his composure without allowing the required run rate to go beyond their reach for a moment.
He brought up his second century of the tournament off 83 balls, driving Thomas towards cover that released the little pressure if there was any on the team in the big chase.
Liton, who replaced Mohammad Mithun in the starting line-up, was cautious at the start of his innings, batting in an unusual number five position but joined the run feast soon, clubbing Shannon Gabriel for three consecutive sixes in 38th over.
Some credit should also go to Tamim Iqbal, who gave Bangladesh the kind of start they needed, putting 52-run with Soumya Sarkar (29) in the opening stand and then another 69 runs with Sakib for the second wicket.
His run out for 48 and subsequent soft dismissal of Mushfiq threatened to derail Bangladesh’s innings only for Sakib to stay firm to ensure the win, with Liton hitting the winning boundary off Gabriel.
‘We were always comfortable at the crease and never panicked and that was the best part of the chase,’ Sakib said after the match.
‘When I was batting with Tamim, I told him at least twice that we could finish the job. Later, during my partnership with Liton, we were telling each other that two of us could do it.’
Man-of-the-match Sakib earlier picked two wickets for 54 runs as Bangladesh toiled hard with the ball to keep West Indies in check after skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza won the toss and opted to bowl first.
Mashrafee led from the front, bowling tight in his opening spell that cost him just 24 runs in seven overs.
Though he finished wicketless, it denied West Indies early momentum before they finally got going with Evin Lewis making 70 off 67 balls.
Shai Hope held one end firm after his dismissal and the other West Indies batsmen tried to build around him in order to get a strong total.
Hope closed in on his fourth one-day international century against Bangladesh in 10 matches before Mustafiz dismissed him for 96.
West Indies had everything under control once they reached 240-3 in 39th over with Shimron Hetmyer at his terrific best after scoring a blistering 50 off 25 balls.
Mustafiz (3-59) and Saifuddin (3-72) shared six wickets between them to stop their run flow that according to West Indies captain Holder denied that 40 runs from par score.
The bowling of Mustafiz and Saifuddin in late overs gave Bangladesh finally a belief that if they could bat well they would still come out better in the game.
Hardly could they think it would come easier than everyone had believed.