Saqibul’s class secures victory

Bangladesh secured a 13 run win against the plucky Canadians in this exciting climax in the Associates Tri-Nations tournament in Antigua. The thanks for Bangladesh must go to all-rounder Saqibul Hasan, who made the highest individual score ever by a Bangladeshi in ODI’s making a match winning 134 not out, then bowled his 10 overs picking up 2 wickets for a measly 36 runs.

Bangladesh recovered from a nervy start to post a decent total of 278, and while Canada always seemed a little behind the pace in run rate terms, they pushed Bangladesh right to the very end, and were unfortunate to fall 13 short. Geoff
Barnett and Ian Billcliff the stars of their innings.

Canada were not the pushovers perhaps people expected and fought to the very end and played their part in a thrilling run chase.

Bangladesh made two changes to their line-up from the opening game, the two quick bowlers, Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain, had recovered sufficiently from their respective back and foot problems to replace Syed Rasel and Tapash Baisya.

Canada made just one change to their side, slow bowler Kevin Sandher was left out in favour of Ugandan-born seamer Henry Osinde.

Canada won the toss and chose to field and made early inroads into the Bangladeshi’s line up, when century maker in the first game, Shahriar Nafees, was caught behind from his first ball off the bowling of former West Indies international Anderson Cummins.

The 40-year old paceman then picked up Aftab Ahmed for 0. He fell second ball, again caught by promising keeper Ashish Bagai. When Tamim Iqbal was run out for 11, Bangladesh were staring down the barrel at 30-3. They need not have worried, because at this point captain Habibul Bashar joined the exciting young Saqibul Hasan, and when the skipper had finally departed the scoreboad had shunted along to 162-4, a much needed, steadying partnership of 132.

It did not get any easier for Canada’s slightly ageing attack, as Mohammad Ashraful came to the crease, and put together a partnership with Saqibul that in retrospect took the game away from Canada. They accumulated 116 runs off just under 14 overs, with some calculated hitting.

Ashraful was finally out off the last ball of the innings for a superb 60 off only 45 balls, Saqibul remained not out for an outstanding 134, including 14 fours. Bangladesh finished on 278-5 off their allocation of 50 overs, with 95 coming off the last 10 overs.

It was a breezy knock from the classy Ashraful, which came
at just the right time for Bangladesh to gain some impetus and post a daunting total for the Canadians.

Cummins figures took a little bit of hammer towards the end,
after his tidy opening spell. His last 5 overs disappearing for 45, but he still finished with relatively respectable figures of 3-60.

The drama continued right after lunch, as Canada’s chase got off to a shaky start. Abdool Samad had to retire hurt after taking a blow from Mortaza, and Shahadat Hossain started with a wicket maiden picking up the important wicket of Ashish Bagai, for the second first ball duck of the day.

But like Bangladesh, Canada found two allies willing to do the hard yards and get their side into a position of strength. Geoff Barnett and Ian Billcliff have both played cricket in New Zealand, and they combined to great effect here, in a stand of 177 to drag the Canadians back into the game.

However, the Bangladesh spinners were gradually cranking up the pressure, and the run rate continued to climb. First Barnett was stumped, then Canada captain John Davison realised the game was drifting away and in an attempt to rescue to the situation was out to the man of the day Saqibul Hasan.

When Billcliff also fell not long after to the spin of Abdur Razzaq for a determined and powerful 92, the writing appeared to be well and truly on the wall.

But Canada did not know when to quit and Ashif Mulla came in and got stuck straight into the spinners, and it was back to game on and Canada were 223-4 off 45 overs, still needing another 56 off 30 deliveries.

Despite Mulla’s run a ball 44, wickets continued to tumble in the manic chase for sweet victory, and inevitably fell just short of the victory total, but all in all gave a very good account of themselves.

Bangladesh must continue to work hard and cease the initiative when the chance arises if they are to produce a shock at the World Cup, the fielding was one aspect which was below standard today.

However, well done to Bangladesh and the 19 year old talent that is Saqibul Hasan, and let us hope for many more nail biting contests throughout the upcoming World Cup.

Bangladesh 278-5
Saqibul Hasan 134*, Mohammad Ashraful 60, Habibul Bashar 57
Anderson Cummins 3-60, Abdool Samad 1-21

Bangladesh won by 13 runs

Canada 265-7
Ian Billcliff 93, Geoff Barnett 77, Ashif Mulla 44*
Abdur Razzak 3-51, Saqibul Hasan 2-36

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