Sajid Mahmood (left) celebrates the wicket of Tamim Iqbal with Ravi Bopara © Getty Images
Sajid Mahmood (left) celebrates the wicket of Tamim Iqbal with Ravi Bopara © Getty Images

After a fairytale entry to the Super Eights in ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Bangladesh put up a decent show, handing out South Africa a 67-run thrashing before they came up against England at Kensington Oval. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at April 11, 2007, when the Bangladeshi southpaws did all but master Paul Collingwood’s grim determination.

Though Bangladesh and Ireland hurt India and Pakistan in ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, there were always the sceptics to classify their success stories as flukes. Things did not help when Bangladesh were flattened by Australia (by 10 wickets) and by New Zealand (by 9 wickets).

They turned things around at Providence, where Mohammad Ashraful launched a furious assault on the South Africans, taking them to 251 for 8 before Habibul Bashar unleashed his troika of left-arm spinners. South Africa, cruising at 63 for 1, were reduced to 87 for 6 before being skittled out for 184. Then they moved to Bridgetown to take on England.

Mahmood and Anderson sink Bangladesh

Kensington Oval had always been West Indies’ fortress and England’s nightmare. They had not won a single international match at the ground between 1935 and 1994. The Barmy Army was there to back them up, as was a curious Indian fan with a banner EAST OR WEST, INDIA IS THE BEST. He had probably booked his tickets before India’s elimination, and then turned up for the match anyway.

Things began in predictable fashion: Michael Vaughan opted to field; Tamim Iqbal flicked James Anderson’s second ball past mid-wicket and lofted the fifth over extra-cover for fours; Shahriar Nafees took a single to bring Tamim on strike against Sajid Mahmood, who bowled one that climbed into Tamim; all he could do was to play it to gully. Nine balls in the match, Bangladesh 9 for 1; a familiar story.

Nafees, unable to get going, hit a dolly to Vaughan at short mid-wicket. The easiest of chances was grassed, but Vaughan ran out Bashar — who had never expected Vaughan to drop the catch. Shortly afterwards Mahmood had Nafees caught-behind. Andrew Flintoff beat Mushfiqur Rahim’s bat to clean bowl him. Anderson bounced out Ashraful, and had Aftab Ahmed chasing a wide one and edging — just when Aftab looked ready for a cameo. 65 for 6 in the 15th over.

Shakib fights back — not for the last time

There was only way for Bangladesh to fight back from there. They opted for the batting Powerplay immediately afterwards, and the first two balls went for four as Shakib cover-drove Flintoff. Monty Panesar came on, and Shakib placed him behind backward-point for four more.

At the other end, Mashrafe Mortaza curbed his natural aggressive instincts, blocking everything that came his way — even against Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara. The pair added 47 from 82 balls before Mortaza’s patience gave in; he tried to slog Panesar over long-on, missed completely, and was bowled. Mohammad Rafique gave in soon, hitting out to Andrew Strauss at mid-off, and though Shakib brought up his fifty off 81 balls, Bangladesh were in dire straits.

Abdur Razzak took his chances, and hit three boundaries en route to a 17-ball 15. He tried a slog sweep off Panesar and was caught at mid-wicket. The men had crossed, and Shakib failed to get the strike back. Vaughan got Mahmood back; the first ball raced through the slips for four; the second bounced, kissed Syed Rasel’s bat, and went to Flintoff at first slip.

Bangladesh were bowled out for 143 in 37.2 overs. Mahmood and Panesar had taken 3 wickets apiece. It was not even lunch.

Ups and downs

Mortaza and Rasel took new ball, and the first 23 balls witnessed swing bowling of the highest order. To sum up, Mortaza and Rasel conceded 4 leg-byes, 3 wides, and not a single run off the bat. The third ball of the fourth over also saw Ian Bell slicing Rasel to Aftab at point.

Vaughan broke the streak, taking the first run off the bat to end the fourth over. Vaughan cover-drove Mortaza for four, and was dropped by Mushfiqur off Rasel soon afterwards. He flicked Rasel for four more, and England went to lunch at 21 for 1 from 6 overs. Strauss finally opened up in the Bowling Powerplay with a six and a four off Mortaza and at 48 for 1 after 13 overs, they seemed to be cruising.

Then Rasel struck, when Vaughan tried to shuffle across and missed one. The next 6 overs yielded only 13, and Vaughan, trying to break the shackles, tried to sweep one off Razzak and top-edged to backward square-leg. Kevin Pietersen tried to hit past mid-wicket, but Farhad Reza, the substitute, pulled off a stunner. 79 for 4.

But they still had Collingwood and Flintoff. While Rafique kept the pressure on, Bashar turned to Shakib at the other end. Flintoff smashed Rafique through cover for four and lofted him over long-on for six to bring up England’s hundred — but Rafique had his revenge: the arm-ball rushed in; Flintoff, with no intention to move his feet, was bowled. Four balls later Bopara played one on.

110 for 6. England still needed 34. They had 18 overs in hand, but that was an utterly useless statistic. Bangladesh needed those 4 wickets. The three men at the pavilion — Mahmood, Anderson, and Panesar — were certainly not champions with the bat. Another wicket might have done it for Bangladesh.

Colly does it for England

Paul Nixon walked out. Runs came in a trickle. Shakib found Collingwood’s inside edge, but it went past Mushfiqur. Nixon tried to defend; the ball hit him on the pad, but to no avail. There was a noise, and up they went in unison — but Nixon had missed that one from Shakib, and his bat had hit his pad. He lived to tell the tale.

The tension mounted. Nixon reverse-swept one from Shakib out of some desperation: it was too close for the shot, and the ball hit very close to the handle. They ran two. Perhaps buoyed by the previous shot, Nixon went at it again. This time it was too far for the shot. The ball hit the end of the bat and went past cover. Two more.

Rafique, meanwhile, beat Collingwood in flight: the ball looped over the bowler’s head, and the batsmen ran. Then Collingwood played one to mid-on, and Nixon, desperate for a run, set off. The fielder missed the stumps.

Bashar recalled Razzak. He found Nixon’s edge and beat Collingwood comprehensively, but that wicket remained elusive. Then, with 14 to be scored, Nixon broke the tension somewhat by dismissing Rafique over his head into the stands. He tried to sweep the next ball, and Mushfiqur took a running catch; they all went up in unison, but Steve Bucknor and Simon Taufel — after a long discussion with Rudi Koertzen — ruled him not out.

But the Bangladeshis were not likely to give up. Bashar got Mortaza back. There was a maiden over, and Razzak backed him with another. Then Mortaza bowled a third maiden. Nixon went for the reverse-sweep twice in two balls but controlled the shot. 22 dot balls on the trot.

Then Nixon played one to mid-wicket to manage a run, and was duly booed. There was another run, then another. Then Mortaza sent down a screamer that went through Nixon. It went past his armpit, over Mushfiqur’s head, and into the fence.

Two balls later Nixon flicked Mortaza to the fence to seal the victory.

What followed?

– Neither Bangladesh nor England made it to the semi-finals.

– Four years later, in Mirpur, England were bowled out in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 encounter before reducing Bangladesh to 169 for 8. Mohammad Mahmudullah and Shafiul Islam then pulled off a near-miracle to see Bangladesh through.

– Another four years later, Bangladesh beat England in a league match: as a result Bangladesh reached the knock-out stages of World Cup cricket for the first time, while England were eliminated.

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 143 in 37.5 overs (Shakib Al Hasan 57*; James Anderson 2 for 30, Sajid Mahmood 3 for 27, Monty Panesar 3 for 25) lost to England 147 for 6 in 44.5 overs (Michael Vaughan 30; Syed Rasel 2 for 25, Abdur Razzak 2 for 30, Mohammad Rafique 2 for 33) by 4 wickets with 31 balls to spare.

Man of the Match: Sajid Mahmood.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)