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February 9, 2006
Bangladesh 255 (Mushfiqur Rahim 64, Ssemanda 4-43) beat Uganda 84 (Ishraq Sonnet 3-26) by 171 runs
Bangladesh produced a professional allround display to finish top of their group, routing Uganda by 171 runs after bowling them out for 84 at the SSC. Mushfiqur Rahim led the way with the bat, while there was an eye-catching display from the newcomer to the side, Ishraq Sonnet, who clubbed 37 off 25 balls, then knocked the top off the Ugandan batting with three early wickets.
Uganda are the weakest of the associate members in the tournament, so there was little surprise that an on-song Bangladesh team were far too strong for them. However, for half of Bangladesh's innings an air of complacency threatened to undermine their effort, with the top order guilty of playing loose shots, as they slipped to 88 for 4.
Allister de Winter, the Bangladesh coach, was satisfied with the performance but admitted the start had been sloppy. "We weren't too happy with what happened early, we wanted to make sure that we respected the opposition and I don't think we respected their style of play as much as we should have.
"They bowled quite well in the first hour and we paid the price with a few early wickets, but it has been the bottom of our order that has saved us more than once. We don't want to have to rely on that going into the Super League."
Uganda's bowling was tight enough to keep the batsmen honest, but there were always loose deliveries on offer. As Rahim settled in he latched onto anything off line, hitting six crisp boundaries in his 80-ball knock. Uganda had a chance to remove him on 11, only for Ronald Semanda to overstep. Bangladesh would have been 108 for 5, but following his let-off, Rahim began to steer Bangladesh into a more comfortable position through a stand of 71 with Mehrab Hossain Jnr.
The Ugandan fielding, which has let them down in this tournament, again produced the occasional comical moment as fielders over-ran the ball, lost it under their feet, or threw it miles over the wicketkeeper. But this was down to over-exuberance, a trait that in no way should be discouraged. There was also one notable exception when Uganda's captain, Hamza Almuzahim, produced a brilliant direct hit from mid-on to run out Mehdi Hasan, sending the Ugandans into their wild celebrations, which certainly have a sense of the football pitch about them.
The bowlers did not worry the Bangladeshis for pace, however their late swing did provide a test, especially for the left-handers. The captain certainly showed faith in his opening bowler, Daniel Ruyange, as the batsmen were greeted by the rare sight of three slips and a seven-two offside field.
That attacking gesture did not last long, but the commitment did, with Charles Okello the pick of the attack, quite a feat for someone who is nothing more than an occasional bowler. Ssemanda made partial amends for his costly no-ball, by eventually bowling Rahim, and finishing with four wickets, to give Uganda the confidence-boost of dismissing Bangladesh inside their 50 overs.
However they never threatened to last that long themselves, falling to a mixture of pushes and prods against the spinners once Sonnet had run through the top order. The pitch offered some turn, albeit slowly, and the Ugandans had little idea how to cope with the probing lines and lengths. In their earlier two matches they had succumbed for 73 against Pakistan and 137 against New Zealand, and here again they fell short of three figures. Arthur Kyobe was the only one to show any real resistance, and was the last man out for a gutsy 31.
Bangladesh now wait and see who they will face in the Super League quarter-finals, either England or Zimbabwe, but on current form they will fear no-one. "We've played well against both sides," said de Winter, "and are just conscious of sticking to our own gameplans." Uganda, meanwhile, head into the Plate tournament aiming to show themselves in a better light, having learnt some hard lessons.
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