The ball didn't turn much on a slow pitch in Chittagong but Netherlands' batsmen didn't have the skill to handle the nagging line and length from the battery of Bangladesh's left-arm spinners. They stabbed, plodded and meandered to 160 and Bangladesh wrapped up a six-wicket victory in a virtual must-win match. Shafiul Islam was luckless in a probing opening spell that read 6-3-7-0 but he was instrumental in strangling the Netherlands batsmen before the spinners tightened the screws further. The result escalated the pressure on England, who have to beat West Indies to stay in the World Cup.
For a brief while, 6.5 overs to be precise, there was some fight in the chase but it evaporated as Imrul Kayes took control to push Bangladesh to victory in Chittagong. Bangladesh were on a wobbly 14 for 1, for the loss of Tamim Iqbal, in the seventh over but Junaid Siddique and Kayes broke free to force Netherlands out of the contest.
The total was too meagre to defend and it was due their middling effort with the bat that Netherlands lost this game. Whenever they tried to take initiative, as Tom Cooper and Alexei Kervezee did, it proved just a mirage as they got out immediately. Whenever they tried to steal some quick runs, they got involved in run-outs. Cooper had struck Shakib Al Hasan for two fours in the 25th over but he got out in the next over, run out due to a misunderstanding with Eric Szwarczynski. He rushed across for a single after pushing to point but couldn't get back in time despite a wide throw from Shakib. Mushfiqur Rahim collected and swiveled to flick a direct hit. Kervezee crashed.
Rubel Hossain for two fours in the 33rd over but fell in the next, stumped off the bowling of Suhrawadi Shuvo. To add to their woes, four batsmen ran themselves out on a day when nothing went right for the Associate team.
Szwarczynski, the opener, dawdled for 68 balls but couldn't convert the start into anything meaningful. Ryan ten Doeschate, dropped on 14 by Kayes, hung around for an unbeaten fifty but he lacked support. The innings lacked momentum from the start, after Shafiul's inspired opening spell, and it went nowhere in the end.
It will remain a mystery how Shafiul didn't pick up a wicket. He darted the ball in, straightened it outside off, slipped in yorkers, tried faster and slower bouncers and didn't bowl a bad ball. He harassed the openers with movement but the ball either thudded high on the pad or missed the edge. It was one of those days. The first run off him was scored only in the 18th delivery, when he tried a slower one. Netherlands promoted Mudassar Bukhari to pinch some quick runs but Shafiul put him in his place in the 11th over. Two yorkers jammed the bottom of the bat, a bouncer pinged the shoulder and a slower one beat the waft.
Shafiul paved way for the spinners, Abdur Razzak, Shakib and Shuvo, who did what they normally do: hit a tight line and length, bowl a slew of dot balls, increase the pressure, and make the batsmen feel claustrophobic. Everything went according to their script.
Netherlands had a brief moment of joy in the chase when Bukhari breached the defences of Tamim with a delivery that straightened in the first over. He continued to bowl with heart, showed some skill and even sledged. He went past Kayes' bat a few times and gave lip to Siddique, but just when the contest looked interesting, Bangladesh broke free.
It was the final ball of the seventh over and Siddique had just been sledged after Bukhari banged in a short delivery. Siddique responded with a flamboyant pull to collect a boundary and that was the moment that turned things around for Bangladesh. In the next over, he dragged the offspinner Adeel Raja, who opened with Bukhari and bowled a few tight overs, to the square-leg boundary. Soon Kayes, who was on 9 off 24 balls, pulled Raja for three runs and Bangladesh took control.
Post that, Kayes took ownership of the chase and started to roll out the big shots: he slapped Raja through covers, slashed a full toss from ten Doeschate over point, and drove Peter Borren through cover for successive boundaries in the 17th over. Though Siddique and Shahriar Nafees, who made a fluent 37 in his first game of the tournament, fell and Shakib combusted on arrival, Kayes stayed to finish the job.
- Abdur Razzak's 3 for 29 is his third three-wicket haul in World Cups. He has been involved in three of the top five World Cup bowling performances for Bangladesh.
- The 92-run stand between Imrul Kayes and Junaid Siddique is the highest for the second wicket for Bangladesh in World Cups. The previous highest was 73 between Tamim Iqbal and Siddique against India in the first game of the 2011 World Cup.
- Kayes' 73 is the second-highest score by a Bangladesh batsman in World Cups behind Mohammad Ashraful's 87 against South Africa in 2007.
- The win was Bangladesh's fourth against a non Test-playing nation in World Cups. Overall, they have won 50 and lost 33 matches against non Test-playing teams (including Zimbabwe). Against Test-playing teams however, they have won 17 and lost 141 ODIs.
- Netherlands' score of 160 is their fourth score below 200 in the 2011 World Cup and their eighth such score in World Cups.
- During the course of his half-century, Ryan ten Doeschate became the highest run getter for Netherlands in World Cups. He now has 329 runs at an average of 54.83.