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S. Ram Mahesh
FUTILE EFFORT: Tamim Khan lunges desperately to regain the crease but Brendon McCullum manages to whip off the bails despite a fumble. PHOTO: AFP
St. Peter's: Bangladesh careened off the admirable course its openers set early, and lost wickets to ill-chosen strokes against New Zealand in Monday's Super Eight match at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
Bangladesh reached 127 for four from 35 overs, with Saqibul Hasan (25) and Mohammad Ashraful (2) at the wicket.
Tamim Iqbal (29) and Javed Omar (22) left within 12 balls of each other after putting on 55 for the first wicket. Aftab Ahmed (27) was another who didn't capitalise on a start. Habibul Bashar was run out for nine.
Earlier, Bangladesh plumped for Javed Omar's solidity at the top of the order. Its young openers, Tamim Iqbal and Shahriar Nafees, while decidedly thrilling, weren't putting bread on the table with the honest regularity that comforts a captain.
Bangladesh needed someone to talk one of the hot-heads through tough periods. It chose the 30-year-old Omar, one of only three men over the age of 25 in the 15-member squad. The numbers show Omar makes fewer than 24 runs an innings, but crucially he deliberates over them for 42 balls.
As Omar walked out with Tamim, he muttered a few quick words. Tamim nodded and proceeded to play with a restraint hard-bitten men would have marvelled at. He waited until the 13th over to charge a paceman.
The left-handed Tamim picked two boundaries off both edges of his bat, but resisted temptation outside his off-stump. Seeing his younger partner put his head down, the squat, square-built Omar bottom-handed an off-drive and carved through cover. But, mostly he rode the bounce, and played it down on the on-side.
A blessing in disguise
Michael Mason walked off in the third over with a niggle; Stephen Fleming was forced to bring on James Franklin. One suspected it wasn't entirely a bad thing, for Franklin would appreciate the swing the white new ball tenders.
But, Tamim cut the left-armer for four, and soon Fleming had his slips out re-formatted in an unconventional off-side matrix of short and deep point, and short and extra cover. Omar profited by edging Franklin through a deserted cordon.
The openers brought up the 50 in the 16th over. It was exactly what Bangladesh needed after being inserted: a calming partnership that absorbed early blows so the middle order could thrive.
But, Tamim had begun sliding back to his old ways. He had cleared his front foot and pulverised a short delivery from Oram. Next ball, he had stepped down only to pat away a cleverly bowled slower ball. That sealed his fate, for Brendon McCullum decided to stand up to Oram.
In Oram's next over, Tamim attempted to paddle over the keeper, missed, and over-balanced. The ball struck McCullum. Somehow, he managed to jiggle it into his gloves and break the stumps before Tamim could whip his bat back in. McCullum's recovery was excellent made possible because he followed the line without being put off by the stroke.
Oram then took care of Omar. The opener has a habit of cutting without extending his arms. It helps him cut balls that aren't overtly wide, but only if he picks length unerringly. He didn't on this occasion, and nicked to McCullum.
Atfab Ahmed and Saqibul Hasan took Bangladesh past 100, playing the bearded Daniel Vettori with care and looking to the non-regulars for boundaries.
Aftab is a busy, combative batsman with a fair amount of skill. Few in the world slap a bowler of Shaun Tait's pace over mid-wicket. But, Aftab's bane is a tendency to give it away: he had reached 27 without drama when he hit Scott Styris down long-on's gullet.
Dav Whatmore had spoken of how frustrating it was to watch his batsmen throw it away with "a rush of blood here, a rush of blood there," and he smacked the dressing-room table when he saw Aftab's stroke.
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