Fleming Leads Kiwis Charge
Stephen Fleming smashed an unbeaten century as New Zealand crushed Bangladesh by nine wickets in Antigua.
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming's eighth one-day international hundred eased his team to a nine-wicket victory over Bangladesh in their World Cup Super Eight match.
Fleming (102 not out) took advantage of benign batting conditions and few time constraints as the Kiwis overhauled a below-par 174 all out with more than 20 overs to spare.
The routine win at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium takes the Kiwis up to six points in the table, alongside Australia, the only other unbeaten team in the tournament.
There was little competitive edge to this match after Bangladesh failed to muster a par total for the second successive time here.
Jacob Oram and Shane Bond were the main reasons the minnows missed their score, after being put in on a sunny morning.
Oram reprised his partnership with wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum to see off the Bangladesh openers after a stand of 55 – and then Bond returned to swing the old ball at pace and take two of four wickets which fell for only seven runs in 29 balls.
Scott Styris (four for 43) emerged – statistically at least – as the Kiwis' best bowler, but the most telling work was done before his medium-pace assortment finished the job.
The upshot was that a series of Bangladeshis got starts – the top four all made 20s – but could not consolidate.
There was a downside to New Zealand's success, however, because two of their frontline bowlers – Michael Mason (calf strain) and James Franklin (migraine) – were each unable to finish their spells.
Oram (three for 30) and McCullum began the Bangladeshis' tale of woe when they combined twice in the space of as many overs to eliminate Javed Omar and Tamim Iqbal.
The openers adopted a markedly more cautious approach than had prevailed in Bangladesh's faulty attempt to set a total against Australia in Saturday's rain-shortened fixture.
But in the 17th over, third umpire Asad Rauf gave a marginal decision against Tamim – who shuffled two feet outside off stump in an attempt to flick runs behind square on the leg-side.
He missed, and McCullum completed the stumping – with the batsman very close to grounding his bat in time, despite being horribly off-balance.
Oram doubled up with the wicket of Omar, attempting to cut a ball which was a little too close and edging behind when the seamer got his trademark extra bounce.
Aftab Ahmed and Saqibul Hasan rebuilt adequately until the former tried to hit Styris over the top and was caught at long-on.
But the wheels did not begin to really drop off for Bangladesh until Oram got back in the game with the direct-hit run-out of Habibul Bashar as he tried to scamper a second run from a cut off Daniel Vettori.
Bond then found devilish swing to bowl Saqibul, trying to drive down the ground, and in the same over he got movement away off the pitch to defeat the back-foot defence of Mushfiqur Rahim before he had scored.
Once Mohammad Ashraful chopped on to Styris, only damage limitation was possible from 131 for seven with 10 overs to go.
But Mohammad Rafique top-scored as he and Syed Rasel shared a last-wicket stand of 34.
It was too little too late for the Bangladeshis, who had precious few opportunities to make life hard for the Kiwi batsmen.
Makeshift opener Peter Fulton struggled for any momentum before mistiming a simple catch to mid-on.
Aftab then failed to pick up the ball in short on the offside when he had a chance to make it 48 for two – either Hamish Marshall (50 not out) or Fleming could have gone run out with an accurate shy.
It was effectively game over soon afterwards, however, Fleming moving serenely to his 90-ball hundred, and eventually tucking greedily into Bangladesh's left-arm spinners as he hit 10 fours and three sixes.
The friendly circumstances of an unbroken century stand also provided an ideal opportunity for Marshall to become reaccustomed to international cricket.
He did so impressively too as the Kiwis closed out the match early to ensure a handsome run-rate to aid their bid for semi-final qualification.
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