New Zealand in positive mode with bat and on points table
New Zealand's big hitters made full use of an outstanding batting pitch to take a seven-wicket win from Bangladesh at Kimberley today.
More importantly, the win put New Zealand in positive run rate mode on the points table and the situation can only get better with their last match against Canada on Monday.
The New Zealanders needed to score 199 to win after Bangladesh took toll of their attack in a display that smacked of a side that had been out of match play for too long, after the forfeiture of their match against Kenya.
It was just as well their opposition was as lowly as Bangladesh because the consequences could have been more severe against a better side.
But with bats in hand, there was a menace about the New Zealand batting that will be encouraging if the side does find itself in the Super Six.
Craig McMillan produced a man of the match performance with 75, although the manner of his dismissal when stepping outside off stump and attempting to ease the ball to fine leg, only to be bowled, was a disappointment.
He looked his most assured of the international summer with his half-century coming from 65 balls and his innings lasting 83 balls and including two sixes and nine fours. There were signs of the McMillan of old in some of his stroke play and that has to be encouraging for the later stages of the tournament. It was his first half-century since the 83 he scored at Kingstown in the fifth One-Day International of last year's tour of the West Indies.
Captain Stephen Fleming is probably still wondering about his dismissal because there was some doubt that he hit the ball when he was given out caught and bowled by Bangladesh's bowler of the moment Khaled Mahmud, who claimed all three wickets to fall for a personal cost of 46 runs off his 10 overs.
Just as McMillan offered more hope for New Zealand so did Chris Cairns who, although only briefly at the crease, looked to be hitting the ball sweeter than for some time and his six which cleared the not inconsiderable grandstand was right up with some of his ground-clearing performances of the past. He scored his 33 off 21 balls while Styris, who had a hefty share of the runs in their 61-run, 41-ball fourth wicket stand, was 37 not out off 36 balls.
Fleming said after the game that New Zealand's plan had been to get the runs as quickly as possible without being reckless.
"Craig is warming to the opening role. He did the job and it was the basis of the innings," he said.
McMillan commented: "It took a while to get in, but once you got it, the feet started moving better. We had a good start which was pretty aggressive and we knocked off the runs in the 34th over."
Bangladesh enjoyed their best day of batting at the tournament.
Mohammad Ashraful scored the first half century of this World Cup for his side, and the fourth by a Bangladesh player in World Cups after Minhajul Abedin, who scored 68 not out and 53 not out against Scotland and Australia respectively in 1999 and Mehrab Hossein who scored 64 against the West Indies, also in 1999.
It was an impressive display by Ashraful who carries so much of the future hopes of Bangladesh on his still teenaged shoulders. He hit one fine six from fast bowler Shane Bond, and several times attempted pull shots without ever quite being convincing in his execution.
However, he did a fine job for his side and his innings set up Khaled Mashud and Mohammad Rafique for their unbroken 70-run eighth wicket stand, a record for Bangladesh in all ODIs.
Rafique batted with a runner through the latter stages of his innings after being hit on the foot by a ball from Bond, but that didn't stop him playing two lovely shots over extra cover for six runs during his innings of 41 off 42 balls.
The Bangladesh middle-order had struggled against a fine display from Daniel Vettori who got spin, and who varied his pace and flight superbly to take no wickets for 19 runs in his 10 overs.
Jacob Oram utilised some life in the pitch to take three for 32, including wickets with his first two deliveries of the game, while Bond also cashed in with three for 33 from his 10.
New Zealand were a little rusty in the field and Canada, who they play on Monday, may well be on the receiving end of a much more disciplined display.