New Zealand 248 for 8 (Taylor 82, Williamson 40) beat Bangladesh 244 (Shakib 64, Henry 4-47) by two wickets
Kane Williamson is not a man who telegraphs his emotions too readily. But the look of self-recrimination and fury in the eyes of New Zealand’s captain was unmistakable after the most fleeting moment of arrogance in a supremely humble career managed to turn a calm and collected victory cruise into an agonising scramble across the line.
His side made it … just, by two wickets and with 17 balls to spare, as the bespectacled Mitchell Santner did his best Daniel Vettori impression to ride out a wave of Bangladeshi emotion – on the pitch and in the stands – piercing the covers one last time to end the agonies of the more senior batsmen in the pavilion and seal New Zealand’s status as the first team in this competition to win back-to-back matches.
But the drama that preceded that moment of Kiwi catharsis had to be lived to be believed. The upshot may not have been the encore that the tiger-striped denizens of South London had been rooting for – once again they turned The Oval into a home-from-home to rival the West Indian support here in the 1970s and 80s – but there was plenty in their team’s performance from which to take heart … not least the heart itself.
Broadly speaking, the rivalry between Bangladesh and New Zealand is characterised by mutual respect. They play one another more often than many sides, drawn together – as they are – by their relative lack of status compared to the big boys of their respective hemispheres. And for the best part of 80 overs of another slow-boiling epic at The Oval, New Zealand appeared to have successfully killed their opponents with kindness.