Cricketer of the week (March 9-15): Bangladesh's Mahmudullah
Right-handed batsman Mahmudullah wins the tag of the player of the week for scoring hundreds in two consecutive games.
Our choice for Cricketer of the Week from March 9 to March 16 is Bangladeshi all-rounder Mahmudullah for scoring back to back centuries to help Bangladesh qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time ever.
Bangladesh took on England in a Pool A encounter of the 2015 World Cup at the Adelaide Oval on Monday, 9th March. The game was a significant one for England especially, as a loss here would mean they would've had to take the flight back home, following their final group match versus Afghanistan at Sydney.
Eoin Morgan won the toss and put Bangladesh in to bat on a good pitch. The new ball bowling pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad struck early and at 8 for 2 in only the 3rd over of the innings, Mahmudullah walked in to join Soumya Sarkar at the crease.
The right-hander got off to a cautious start, scoring his first four after the 12th delivery he faced, but soon began to find the boundaries more often and increased the pace of his innings.
He brought up his 11th ODI fifty, courtesy a single off Chris Jordan, from 69 balls with 3 fours and a six. He went past his previous highest ODI score of 82* during the batting powerplay and the reached another landmark, that off Bangladesh's highest individual scorer in World Cup history, through a boundary of James Anderson in the 42nd over of the innings.
The 29-year-old then reached his maiden ODI century with a single off Stuart Broad. It was the first time any player from Bangladesh had ever scored a hundred in a World Cup game. However, that joy was short-lived as he got out soon after for 103, but that knock, along with a key innings of 89 from Mushfiqur Rahim, helped his team put up a competitive score of 275 in 50 overs.
In reply, England needed someone to score a big hundred, but unfortunately for them, none of them could provide that and despite some contributions from the lower-order, they were bundled out for 260, thereby handing Bangladesh a historic 15-run win.
Mahmudullah was deservingly adjudged the Player of the match for his knock.
Mahmudullah rescues his side again
Buoyed by that win, Bangladesh headed to Seddon Park in Hamilton to face New Zealand in their final Group game, before their quarter-final clash.
Like in their last game against England, the Bangladeshis were once again put in to bat by opposition captain Brendon McCullum. Once again, their openers fell cheaply to the new ball bowling pair of Tim Southee and Trent Boult and at 33 for 2, it was up to Mahmudullah once again to bring his side back into the game.
He received an early reprieve when Corey Anderson dropped him in the slips while he was on 1. The right-hander made full use of that lifeline and paced his innings just like he had against England. He got to his half-century with a single off Daniel Vettori after facing 63 balls despite losing partners at the other end.
He got to his second successive century of the World Cup afer 111 balls with a brace off Mitchell McClenaghan and then followed that up with 3 consecutive boundaries off the left-arm seamer.
He eventually finished on 128 not out from 123 balls that contained 12 fours and 3 sixes which helped the Tigers put up a sizeable total of 288 for 7 on the board. The Bangladeshi bowlers put in a spirited effort, but a century from Martin Guptill and useful contributions from Ross Taylor and the rest of the lower-order meant that the Black Caps scraped through to a 3-wicket win with 7 balls to spare.
However, despite the knock going in vain, he received praises for his performance on Twitter.
For a long time, Bangladesh have entered into global events hoping that they could pull off upset wins over the more established teams, and on more than a few occasions have they heavily relied on one or two individual performances to help them pull through.
This has been one area where the Bangladeshis have shown a stark improvement, with more than one man standing up and delivering in their road to the quarters. They would hope Mahmudullah continues his good run in the knockout stage.