New Zealand have achieved their target of winning all six matches in their group, thus topping the pool rather easily. Having beaten Sri Lanka, Australia and England comprehensively, they would have been extremely confident of getting the better of Bangladesh in their final league game. They did, but the win did not come in a straightforward manner. New Zealand had to earn their runs and wickets, and in the end their superiority in each department and obvious talent took them through. To their credit, Bangladesh fought tooth and nail with the Kiwis, and with better luck could have clinched the game.
Although they lost, Bangladesh were highly impressive in both the batting and bowling department. After batting first, and losing their openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes early on, they were in trouble. However, for the second game in running Mahmudullah batted fantastically to bring Bangladesh right back into the game. He held one end up, and kept the runs flowing as well, attacking when needed. The impressive Soumya Sarkar again made an impact with his half-century. Sarkar has displayed talent without doubt, but he needs to convert those starts into bigger scores.
Bangladesh would have been hoping for better efforts from their veterans Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. Hasan actually disappointed, getting in and getting out, when he should ideally have carried on. While he has got some runs in the series, Shakib should not be satisfied with what he has delivered so far. He knows that he capable of much more, and must achieve the same in the knockouts. As for Rahim, the law of averages caught up with him, as he registered a rare failure. Thankfully for Bangladesh, Sabbir Rahman came to the party for them. Thanks to his smashing stroke play, they managed to finish on a high, and set a challenging target for New Zealand.
Bangladesh's bowling also tested New Zealand. They made the expected decision to open the bowling with spin, in the form of Shakib. Incredibly, they made the idea work even after revealing the tactics to the opponents before the game itself. The Bangladesh think tank deserve a lot of credit for the same, and Shakib in particular for the manner in which he dismissed Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson. Unfortunately for Bangladesh, they missed the services of their experienced skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. In his absence, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed also struggled.
New Zealand will look back at the win with a great deal of relief than elation. They were always expected to win, and did, but it was the first time that McCullum failed, and they nearly succumbed in the end. The biggest plus for New Zealand from the game was the hundred by Martin Guptill. It was a match-winning knock no doubt, but like England's Moeen Ali, he too needs to ensure that he gets runs against bigger opponents. Ross Taylor's struggles continued, but at least he spent time at the crease, and crossed his half-century. Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson also played crucial cameos. It wasn't easy for New Zealand, but they would be happy they came out unscathed.
--By A Cricket Analyst