In a tight game, the close calls are often the ones that make a difference. When Bangladesh’s wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim’s elbow broke the stumps before he had taken the ball as he attempted to run out Kane Williamson, New Zealand’s captain was on 8. Had he been run out then, his side would have been in serious trouble in pursuit of Bangladesh’s below-par score of 244. As it was, Williamson went on to make 40, sharing a century stand with Ross Taylor, and his team narrowly got over the line, by two wickets.
Although it was a chance which should have been taken and arguably the game’s most significant moment, Bangladesh captain Mushrafe Mortaza did not want to criticise his wicketkeeper. He did, however, recognise what an important moment it was in the context of what transpired. “The turning point, I think (was) that run-out,” he said on Wednesday (June 5). “Because they both [Williamson and Taylor] get set in that time.
“Mushi, I don’t think we need to go after him. That throw was straight, and then as a keeper, it’s very difficult to [decide if] it was straight or not. He wants to pick the ball and suddenly it hits his elbow, I guess. That sort of mistake always happens. So I don’t think we should go after him. It’s part of the game. It’s happened. No one wants to make this mistake.”
Rahim’s choice was between whether to catch the ball in front of the stumps and take the bails off or stand behind the stumps to see if the ball would hit them without his intervention. The throw from Tamim Iqbal looked straight enough but it would have been hard for Rahim to know whether the ball was heading for a direct hit. In his attempt to gather the ball in front of the stumps instead, he inadvertently knocked off one of the bails with his elbow.
It was an important moment but Bangladesh’s total of 244 all out felt always felt light at the halfway stage on a good pitch at The Oval. The top-eight Bangladesh batsmen all made double figures but nobody could go on to notch up a defining innings that could have helped propel them up towards a total of 280 to 300 which would have been challenging for the New Zealanders. Mortaza bemoaned the fact that so many batsmen got in and then got out, citing this as a bigger factor in their defeat than the Williamson run-out chance.
In the field and with the ball, Bangladesh were dogged and stubborn. The wickets were shared around with two apiece for Mehidy Hasan, Shakib Al Hasan, Mosaddek Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin. The performances of the latter two bowlers, the least proven of Bangladesh’s attack, bodes well for the rest of the tournament while Shakib and Mehidy kept up the good form with the ball they showed against South Africa.
Surprisingly however, Mustafizur Rahman did not bowl his full allotment of overs and only bowled five of the first 41 overs of New Zealand’s innings. Mortaza confirmed it was part of Bangladesh’s plan to use the spin of Shakib and Mehidy up front with the pitch “gripping” and use Mustafizur later on where they feel he is more effective. “If we look at the last match [against South Africa], he got more effective in his second spell,” Mortaza said.
Despite their defeat, Bangladesh’s captain was not too downcast. They pushed New Zealand hard and came close to a famous, come-from-behind victory. They have England up next in Cardiff on Saturday. “I don’t think we play badly today,” Mortaza said. “We should bring some of the positive stuff we get from here, and defending 244, everyone knows on this wicket at The Oval, it’s not easy. I think we are very close today. A few runs short, but I think we are very close.