The nature of this group and this competition meant that Australia needed not only to beat Bangladesh but to thrash them if they were to overtake South Africa and assume control of the second semi-final spot. What followed was one of the most one-sided contests in the history of the T20 World Cup, and a victory by eight wickets secured with 82 balls to spare.
Adam Zampa was named player of the match after taking five wickets for 19, accounting for all but one of the last six Bangladeshi batters to fall, but these were opponents who put up the lamest of fights. Liton Das was bowled by Mitchell Starc with the third ball of the innings to set the tone, and Bangladesh went on to lose a wicket in five of the first seven overs, at which point they were 33 for five – and this on what their captain, Mahmadullah, later declared “the best wicket we played on, for batting especially”.
One of the great challenges of this World Cup has been working out how Bangladesh came into it ranked sixth in the world. It is true they beat Australia 4-1 in a five-match series this year, but all those games were played in Dhaka – and this team do not travel well. They have now lost 14 of the 19 games they have played away in the last three years, and won 13 of 19 played at home.
“It was useful for the bowlers in our team,” Zampa said of Australia’s trip to Bangladesh. “In terms of our batsmen the conditions were pretty alien in Dhaka, they were the toughest we’ve come across in international cricket. So we were probably going to be facing different bowling here, albeit from a similar bowling attack. For us [bowlers], we had some gold nuggets on the Bangladesh batsmen that we definitely tried to use.”
Having bowled out Bangladesh for 73 there were hurried calculations at the innings break around net run rate. It turned out Australia had just over eight overs to win the game if they were to overtake South Africa, a line they crossed with 11 balls to spare. They were not the only ones who needed a calculator: when Aaron Finch lifted Mustafizur Rahman square for six to take his side to 35 for 0 halfway through the fourth over the stadium DJs played a clip from Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer, infuriating the mathematicians in the audience who knew Australia were still two runs away from being halfway there.
This was not a game for batting purists, with Bangladesh careless and Australia carefree. Such was the chasers’ hurry they swung their bat at almost everything, and eventually both Finch and David Warner were bowled heaving across the line – easily the most impressive thing about Bangladesh was the enthusiasm with which they celebrated these irrelevant breakthroughs – but they were only ever going to be delayed rather than denied, and even then not by much.
A win against West Indies on Saturday will almost certainly take Australia into the semi-finals. As it happens they also recently lost a series there, and apparently picked up some gold nuggets on their batters too.