Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Bangladesh 322 for 3 (Shakib 124*, Liton 94*, Tamim 48) beat West Indies 321 for 8 (Hope 96, Lewis 70, Hetmyer 50, Mustafizur 3-59, Saifuddin 3-72) by seven wickets
Shakib Al Hasan produced one of the great World Cup performances, stringing a domineering 124 not out to his two-wicket haul as he anchored Bangladesh's highest chase in an ODI. In the process, he reached 6000 ODI runs, became Bangladesh's highest run-scorer at a World Cup, the second after Mahmudullah to make two centuries for Bangladesh in the tournament, and added his name to yet another one of the six Bangladesh century stands in World Cups. That apart, he also took Bangladesh past West Indies' 321 with 8.3 overs to spare in Liton Das' company.
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Shakib came in, as he has done all tournament, at No. 3 despite Liton's inclusion in Bangladesh's XI. At 52 for 1, Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar had provided a start similar to the one during their win against South Africa; this held true both in terms of the scoring rate as well as the kind of new-ball bowling they had faced. Going in with five fast bowlers, West Indies were bowling decidedly short, with little to indicate a Plan B.
This played into Bangladesh's hands on a ground with short boundaries. Tamim led the initial attack, slashing and pulling boundaries, and occasionally jumping on top of the bounce to punch on the rise through the off side as West Indies counted on persistence rather than adaptability with their tactics. According to ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball data, 112 balls were short or short of a good length. Bangladesh made 177 runs against those deliveries and lost two wickets.
It took a sharp piece of fielding from Sheldon Cottrell in his bowling follow through to provide West Indies a half-chance, one that he took as he tore down the stumps at the striker's end even as Tamim fell short looking to dive back into his crease. It was about when rain made its first appearance, but not enough to force the players off. Shortly after, Bangladesh lost Mushfiqur Rahim caught down the leg side with an over left for the 20-over DLS cut-off. But as they navigated that situation, staying narrowly ahead of the DLS par score, the sun crept out. And with it came a step-up from Shakib.
It was not, strictly speaking, a silken innings. But that was down to West Indies' lengths. The pull was Shakib's staple, but not the high-scoring option that it usually is. It mostly helped him get off strike, off the toe and off the under-edge most often. But in the middle of this arduous accumulation, Shakib played some powerful cuts, and produced several brilliant punches down the ground to find boundaries. In all, six of his 16 boundaries came between wide mid-off and mid-on. In essence, he blunted West Indies' attack at his ribs, while staying prepared for scoring opportunities on the front foot. With the erratic spells Shannon Gabriel and Oshane Thomas bowled, the absence of a spinner, and a limping Andre Russell for fifth bowler, West Indies lost their grip through the middle overs.
That made it even easier for Shakib and Liton, whose freedom led to some risk-taking. But top-edges fell between converging fielders, edges flew either side of the keeper - apart from those that were helped past him - and by the time West Indies had begun processing what Shakib had done, Liton himself had raced to fifty on World Cup debut.
The 189-run fourth-wicket stand was built largely on a blueprint of progressive attacking until the 38th over, which began with three sixes off Gabriel, all of them off the back foot from Liton. The first and third were bouncers, sent in deep square-leg's direction, while the second was a slug over mid-off to a full ball. By the end of it, the two were doing whatever they wanted. Twenty-four came off that over, this World Cup's most expensive one, and Bangladesh were 294 for 3. There were no hiccups from there on.
The day had begun with a win at the toss, and a maiden over to Chris Gayle, who was threatened enough by Mohammad Saifuddin's inswinger to stay inside the line and edge behind in the fourth over for an 11-ball duck. It was the perfect start. And then Saifuddin didn't bowl for the next 25 overs.
What they missed out on from Gayle, West Indies gained from their persistence with Evin Lewis. Having fallen for single-digit scores in both matches before this one, Lewis finally found some rhythm as the pressure was almost immediately released after Gayle's dismissal. He was watchful to some extent, with hardly any swings through the line, and kept the rate up as Shai Hope dug into another laborious ODI innings. Like West Indies, Bangladesh also bowled predominantly short or short of a length - the spinners and the seamers - and this allowed Lewis and Hope to set their own pace in a 116-run stand. Just after getting to his fifty, Lewis decided to pick up his scoring; a couple of sixes ensued before slicing a full one to long-off off Shakib.
An induced slice is how Shakib also dismissed Nicholas Pooran, who went too hard with his slog sweep, having just smacked Mehidy Hasan onto the roof of the straight boundary. In both cases, Shakib had exploited the dip and drift he got from bowling into the wind, a plan far removed from the other spinners on the day.
Shimron Hetmyer attempted three sweeps off his first three balls, a signal that was received by Hope at the other end as he forced Mustafizur Rahman to bowl three short balls at the start of the 35th over - only two of which were legal - that cost 15 runs. Hetmyer soon connected a few slogs over the leg side against Saifuddin, and then neutralised Mehidy's offbreaks as well on his way to a 25-ball fifty.
But there was to be a comeback from Mustafizur; Tamim, diving, held on to a miscued slog from Hetmyer and two balls later, Mustafizur got Russell to edge an offcutter behind. This briefly halted West Indies' charge, but Jason Holder used his reach to cart an 18-ball 33, six of which came with a 105-metre hit over midwicket. His innings, too, ended early though. Early enough for West Indies to stray towards caution in the 44th over; with Darren Bravo at No. 8, this would have seemed strange, but for all practical purposes, that's where West Indies' batting ended. And so, Hope, who barely struck at more than 80, had one more reason to try and bat longer. He didn't manage it, falling to Mustafizur for 96 off 121 with three overs to spare. West Indies only managed 61 off their last eight overs - Holder said after the match that they were 40-50 short.