Sun, 21 Jul 2019

Warner's rapid 166 trumps Mushfiqur's fighting 102

ESPNCricInfo
21 Jun 2019, 04:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Australia 381 for 5 (Warner 166, Khawaja 89, Finch 53, Soumya 3-58) beat Bangladesh 333 (Mushfiqur 102*, Mahmudullah 69, Tamim 62) by 48 runs

Crowds of people left Trent Bridge. They think it's all over, and it probably is now. Australia battered Bangladesh with the bat and then squeezed them slowly but surely with the ball to complete a victory that more or less settled the top four places for the World Cup semi-finals, with near enough to three more weeks of qualifying games remaining.

Alongside England, India and New Zealand, Australia are firmly ensconced in the semi-final placings, seeing off a Bangladesh team who, by dint of their sparkling displays against South Africa and the West Indies, had been the last of the genuine challengers from outside the top quartet.

There was plenty to like about the day's cricket in Nottingham, from a powerful century by David Warner, nifty support from Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja, a brief but spectacular display by Glenn Maxwell, and plenty of doughtiness about the chase for a distant target, earning Mushfiqur Rahim an unbeaten century and Bangladesh their highest ever ODI total. But there was not quite the sting in the finish of this match, nor now the tournament entire, that any global event should have.

This is not to say that Australia should feel bad about putting on their most consistent batting display of the Cup so far. Granted a strong batting platform, they went another step further in mid and late innings acceleration than they had managed in successive games against Pakistan and then Sri Lanka, although still with enough room for improvement to occupy the coach Justin Langer and his assistant Ricky Ponting.

Australia's fielding, too, was not always their sharpest, although the return of Marcus Stoinis from injury added balance to the bowling attack and agility in the field even though there were occasional signs that he is still not exactly 100% fit after a side strain.

Bangladesh will bemoan a couple of injury enforced changes on match morning, and then the early drop of Warner by Sabbir Rahman in the gully, the same place West Indies had picked him up on this ground earlier in the competition. On a friendly pitch and fast outfield they were left looking defenseless at times, but resolved in the afternoon to fight the contest out - much to the credit of Mushfiqur's rearguard. A gap in sixes hit - 10 for Australia, four for Bangladesh - formed part of the wider picture.

WATCH - David Warner's scintillating 166 on Hotstar (India only)

Finch was overdue to win a toss and this was a good one to get, the sun shining over Nottingham and the pitch looking slow and dry without undue moisture. With Stoinis, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Adam Zampa back in the side, balance looked a little more prevalent in Australia's combination, although Nathan Lyon must wonder whether it is time to start brandishing the red Dukes ball in training ahead of the Ashes.

Precious little seam or swing was on offer early for Bangladesh's seamers, and they were to rue spurning the only chance offered early, a Warner slice through the hands of gully. Anything dropping short or floating too full was pounced on by Finch and Warner - a lusty carve over cover by the captain and a hook shot by the left-hander reaping the first sixes of the morning.

If Warner was still struggling for his best timing, Finch did his best to dissuade his partner from too much frustration, an effort in terms of mid-pitch support that would reap handsome rewards later. Finch himself appeared eager to accelerate sooner rather than later, moving around on the crease and sizing up the shorter of Trent Bridge's boundaries, but just as he and Warner seemed ready to launch, Soumya got a shortish delivery to pop a fraction, causing Finch to bunt a catch to short third man.

His frustration at being dismissed was added to apparent confusion about who was to come in to bat next, as Khawaja rather than Smith or Maxwell walked to the middle. For a time, Khawaja and Warner left themselves open to criticism for hastening a little too slowly, but once Warner had his hundred and Khawaja his bearings, the runs grew from a stream to a flow and then a torrent. Warner mixed perseverance with brutality, while Khawaja's timing and placement were at times reminiscent of no less a left-hander than Brian Lara himself.

With 16 centuries, Warner is now level with Adam Gilchrist on Australia's all-time ODI list, and trailing only Mark Waugh (18) and Ponting (30). His role in this tournament has at times been difficult to decipher, given his evident struggles for timing and placement, but his determination to succeed cannot be doubted, nor the appreciation his run-making has drawn out of team-mates who had only recently been reacquainted with him.

The treatment was meted out evenly across the Bangladesh attack, leaving Mashrafe Mortaza with few safe options including himself. Warner's emulation of Finch in passing 150 at this tournament signalled further acceleration, and his exit after an innings that had been both platform and launch served only to bring Maxwell to the middle. Helped by a Rubel Hossain no-ball that allowed him a free-hit from which to unfurl an otherworldly back foot/front foot inside/outside drive over long off for six, Maxwell was rapidly in full destruction mode.

WATCH - Maxwell's blistering 32 on Hotstar (India only)

Momentarily anything looked possible, capping a seven-over stretch from 40 to 46 in which the Australians ransacked 109 runs. But Khawaja's acceptance then refusal of a quick single left Maxwell stranded in mid-pitch, and his evident anger at the manner of his run-out hastened a miniature collapse of 3 for 8 in seven balls, as Khawaja (caught behind, hooking) and Steven smith (lbw to a full toss) also exited. Rain delayed the final over for 23 minutes, but Stoinis found the boundary twice to lift Australia beyond 380.

If this seemed a lot, Bangladesh had the knowledge they had been on course to run down a target even loftier in their beating of West Indies in Taunton, and for a time while Tamim and Shakib were together, anything looked possible. Soumya's stay had been ended by a Finch direct hit when Bangladesh's openers also became mixed up between the wickets, but the Australians were starting to look a little apprehensive when Stoinis' off-break slower ball coaxed a front edge from Shakib and a simple catch for Warner at mid off.

Sensing blood, Finch brought Starc back and was rewarded when Tamim dragged a 146kph projectile onto his stumps, before Liton Das was welcomed with a bouncer that struck his helmet and forced a replacement. Another promising union between Mushfiqur and Liton was scuppered when Zampa fizzed a quicker ball through to pin the latter lbw on the crease, and though Mushfiqur kept grinding out the runs with the hard-hitting aid of Mahmudullah, the asking rate grew evermore prohibitive, and ultimately impossible.

Mashrafe's late blow took his men to a bigger tally than any Bangladesh team before them, a fitting marker for the fight they had shown, but there could be only one winner.

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