by: Atika Mehboob TN Sports News Pakistan:
Kane Williamson marked his return to international cricket in characteristic style, scoring a meticulous 78 against Bangladesh. Although he had to retire hurt in the 39th over, he played a pivotal role in guiding New Zealand close to an eight-wicket victory in Chennai. Daryl Mitchell sealed the victory for the team with 43 balls remaining, ensuring a strong start for New Zealand in this World Cup.
After sustaining a right knee injury during the previous IPL season, Williamson was out of competitive cricket for seven months. His participation in the World Cup seemed unlikely. However, he defied expectations by not only returning ahead of schedule but also captaining the New Zealand side and displaying a top-notch performance against Bangladesh.
In his comeback match, Williamson hit ten boundaries and a six in his 108-ball innings before retiring due to cramps. His instrumental role in building two crucial partnerships, first with Devon Conway and then with Mitchell, eased New Zealand’s chase.
Bangladesh’s hopes flickered early on when Mustafizur Rahman dismissed opener Rachin Ravindra in the third over. But a dropped chance from Mehidy Hasan Miraz gave Conway a lifeline, which proved costly for Bangladesh. Following this, both Conway and Williamson started to accelerate. Despite a minor setback when Conway was dismissed for 45, Mitchell kept the momentum going with a dynamic 67-ball 89, studded with six fours and four sixes.
Earlier in the day, after being sent in to bat by Williamson, Bangladesh struggled with their top-order. Litton Das’s early dismissal recalled memories of a past World Cup incident involving another Bangladeshi opener. Despite the wobbly start, a fighting partnership between veterans Shakib and Mushfiqur gave Bangladesh some hope.
Shakib’s aggressive play brought some fireworks, but his wicket fell shortly after he reached his half-century. Mushfiqur also departed after a gallant effort, leaving Bangladesh with a below-par score.
Mahmudullah, playing at No. 8 for the first time in over a decade, ensured Bangladesh played the full 50 overs, but their total still seemed inadequate against a strong New Zealand lineup.