SK Flashback: The day when Bangladesh stunned the mighty Proteas
- It truly marked the rise of Bangladesh in world cricket as they dared to dream of beating the best side in the world.
Even though the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup will be remembered for all the wrong reasons surrounding Pakistan’s then coach and late Bob Woolmer’s controversial death and the lesser interest and viewership that the marquee event in the Caribbean generated from the fans all around the world, it will always have a special place in the history of Bangladesh and Ireland cricket.
While their success in the 9th edition of the event propelled Bangladesh to achieve much bigger success in the years to follow, the world event marked the arrival of Ireland on the biggest stage of the game in the most sensational way it could.
Bangladesh and Ireland upset India and Pakistan respectively in their group stage matches to storm their way into the super eights.
However, the most defining moment of that World Cup for Bangladesh has to be the one when they stunned the mighty South Africans, the then World No. 1 side, by a margin of 67 runs, when these two sides locked horns in their super eight fixture at Georgetown, Guyana on April 7th 2007.
Graeme Smith, the then Proteas captain, won the toss and put Bangladesh in on a slow wicket. The men from Bangladesh got off to a slow start as the slow nature of the wicket and quality of bowlers in the opposition ranks that comprised of Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt demanded an approach of caution.
After a relatively steady opening start of 42 from Javed Omar and Tamim Iqbal, the then 18-year old who was showered lot of praises for his swashbuckling knock against India earlier in the World Cup, the South Africans started to make serious inroads into the Bangla batting as they reduced them to 84/4.
At the fall of Shakib Al Hasan’s wicket, Aftab Ahmed joined Mohammad Ashraful in the middle and thereby began the revamp of the innings. Both of them short in stature and high on ambitions, stitched together an innings shaping partnership of 76, displaying instinctive and inherent ability of fascinating shot-making before Ahmed departed for a well-made 35 off 43 balls.
Mashrafe Mortaza, who replaced Ahmed at the crease, played a 16-ball 25 cameo that gave the innings a much needed impetus. Ashraful’s acceleration at the end that revolved around pre-meditated flick over short-fine leg that earned him lot of runs, propelled Bangladesh to a competitive total of 251/ 8 at the end of their stipulated 50 overs.
Ashraful’s gritty knock of 87 stood out as a shining star as the Bangladesh innings was fashioned around his determination and individual brilliance which helped them put a respectable total on the board.
With the wicket slowing down and the threat posed from presence of two left-handed spinners in the opposition ranks, the Proteas were well aware of the task at their disposal. However, the men from the rainbow nation didn’t get off to a good start that they would have dearly expected as the then skipper Smith made his way back to the pavilion for just 12, the persistence of Syed Rasel causing the damage.
AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis tried hard to instill some kind of momentum into a sluggish innings, but it was not supposed to be their day as Kallis, de Villiers and Ashwell Prince, all departed in space of just 4 runs, leaving the Proteas in a great deal of stranglehold.
Twin strikes on consecutive delivers by Shakib wreaked havoc as Mark Boucher and Justin Kemp departed putting Bangladesh in a commanding position. With just 4 wickets left and mountain of runs still needed for the South Africans, the celebrations had already begun in Bangladesh camp.
A little resistance from Pollock and a solitary, fighting half-century from Herschelle Gibbs just delayed the inevitable as Proteas in the end succumbed comprehensively by 67 runs to the then minnows Bangladesh, handing them a famous, well-deserved win.
If Ashraful was the pioneer of the batting department for Bangladesh, Abdur Razzak’s 3/25 was the cornerstone of Bangladesh’s bowling performance on that day as an impressive team effort from Bangladesh engulfed the title-contender, mighty Proteas to send shock waves around the cricketing world!
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