Shakib Al Hasan powers Bangladesh to victory

As the sun set on County Ground Taunton’s 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup it was Bangladesh who came out on top against the West Indies in what was a must -win game for both sides.

This was the last of the three World Cup matches to be played at the home of Somerset County Cricket Club and this intriguing encounter was a fitting finale for this beautiful ground.

Given that no side had successfully chased more than 248 in this tournament until now, West Indies’ cautious tactics looked to have delivered a very serviceable total of 321, even in Taunton’s tightly knit environs.

However, Bangladesh’s pursuit was bold, brash and impressive. Led first by Tamim Iqbal and then taken up by the in-form Shakib Al Hasan, who also picked up two wickets with his left-arm spin.

In the end, the second highest successful chase in an ICC Cricket World Cup was achieved with seven wickets and 8.3 overs to spare.

His unbroken partnership of 189 with Liton Das, who finished on 94 not out, was the second highest for the fourth wicket in the history of the tournament.

This was Shakib’s day. When he had scored 23, he reached 6,000 ODI runs. He then passed fifty for the fourth time in four innings at this ICC Cricket World Cup.

When he cover-drove Oshane Thomas for four, he brought up his ninth century for his country and, at 83 balls, the fastest – also the second fastest in the tournament so far.

By complete contrast, West Indies’ total of 32 for one from the opening ten-over powerplay was the lowest of the tournament.

The first time Chris Gayle played for Somerset at County Ground Taunton, in 2015, he made 151 not out in a T20 match.

A 13-ball duck was not what anyone wearing maroon (either of West Indies or Somerset) was hoping for, though the majority of the crowd in green and red of Bangladesh were far from unhappy.

When it came to Bangladesh’s chase, they hurtled out of the blocks, rattling up 75 for one in their first ten overs.

There are mitigating factors, of course. Bangladesh’s seamers, well drilled by their bowling coach and Windies legend Courtney Walsh, bowled a nagging line. West Indies’ quicks, on the other hand, were content to bang the ball into an easy-paced pitch and paid the price.

West Indies skipper Jason Holder had called for a more disciplined approach from his batsmen – or “smart aggression” as he put it – and broadly speaking he got it.

Shai Hope’s 96 from 121 balls was a model of self-restraint, notwithstanding the eye-catching forehand smash for six he played off left-armer Mustafizur Rahman in the 35th over. He had hit only three boundaries in his 58 up to that point.

West Indies took 19 off that over and 17 from the next in a shackle-breaking period that also included a missed run-out opportunity for Bangladesh.

Holder himself was in no mood to hang around. He launched his first ball over the ropes at what is affectionately known as the graveyard end. It was appropriately named, as it was where both Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer perished as, later on, did West Indies’ hopes.

At the close of play West Indies Captain, Jason Holder said: “I felt at halfway that we were still a few short. A par score on this wicket with the dimensions of the ground was probably 360 or 370 and we were well short of that.

“We knew in the first ten overs we had to knuckle down and get through that difficult period. We should have been able to rotate the strike rate a bit better and find the boundaries more often.

“We lost wickets at crucial stages and we needed one of the top four players to go to the end. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.”

Man of the Match, Shakib Al Hasan said: “At the end of the first innings we thought it would be tough, but everyone was comfortable and chilling.

“There was a lot of confidence and belief that we could chase it. Once we started batting, everyone felt comfortable and relaxed in the dressing room which helped us a lot. At no point did we have to panic.

“I’ve been contributing well with ball, bat and with my leadership. I’d love this to continue because there are four games left and if we are to play a semi-final, everyone has to contribute and chip in. I need to make sure I continue what I have been doing.

“It is one of the best wins because of the way we paced the innings. I was never in a rush. I was patient to wait and put the bad ball away. Every time I did that quite well.”

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