Fleming ton crushes Bangladesh
For the second time in five days, New Zealand's well-oiled bowling attack turned in a clinical bowling display, beating Bangladesh by nine wickets, and giving their team a foothold in the semi-finals of the World Cup. A target of 175 was never going to pose too many problems, not with Stephen Fleming sealing the nine-wicket win with an assertive century, his second in World Cups and eighth overall.
Carrying on from where they had left off against West Indies, New Zealand's varied pace attack refused to let up. Shane Bond's incisiveness was complemented by Jacob Oram's awkward lift and Scott Styris's dibbly-dobblies as they snaffled ten wickets between them. Bangladesh's batsmen came unstuck for the second match in a row - a frenzied collapse against Australia was followed by a lacklustre capitulation today - despite enjoying their best opening stand of the tournament. None of the top four converted their starts, giving it away when set, and left the underbelly exposed to the incisive New Zealand attack.
Javed Omar, making his World Cup debut 11 years after his first ODI, and Tamim Iqbal, the youngster, provided Bangladesh the unhurried start they required, adding 55 in 16.4 overs. But Oram's double-strike instigated a steep slide. Oram stuck to a back of a length, extracted uncomfortable bounce and hardly gave the batsmen room to maneuver. Tamim was once struck on the chest, being followed by a short one after trying to charge down the track, and, barring one aggressive crack across the line, couldn't break free that often. He fell trying an overambitious scoop-paddle, dragging his back foot out of the crease and watching Brendon McCullum, standing up, whip off the bails in quick time. Omar edged a short one a couple of overs later and all their good work began to come apart.
Bond opened up the floodgates with a couple of wickets on returning for his second spell before Styris, who bowled Mason's quota of overs after he was injured, mopped up the tail with his nagging seamers. Aftab Ahmed's dismissal typified Bangladesh's day: mistiming a loft off Styris when well set, and holing out to long-off. Habibul Bashar joined in operation surrender, attempting a non-existent second run and being beaten by a direct hit from Oram, a sharp flat hit from deep third man.
Saqibul and Mushfiqur had no answer to Bond detonators, losing their stumps by playing around full deliveries, before Mohammad Ashraful and Mashrafe Mortaza fell to Styris. It took a 34-run tenth wicket stand between Mohammad Rafique and Syed Rasel to lend the total some respectability.
A target of 175 was always going to be within New Zealand's range and they went about hunting it down with the ease associated with a stroll in the park. Fleming went about his business in a composed manner, putting away the wayward deliveries, clipping effortlessly off his pads and handling the left-arm spinners with ease. He shimmied down the track towards the latter part of his innings, lofting three sixes with minimum fuss.
Giving him support was Hamish Marshall, in the side for the injured Lou Vincent. He took some time to get into his stride, especially against the fastish left-arm spin of Abdur Razzak, but finished with a flurry of fours. He grew in confidence as his innings went on and completed the match with a big six off part-time legspinner Ashraful .Their 134-run partnership had taken just 20 overs and was similar to the hammering Bangladesh received at the hands of Australia just a few days ago.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo