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Shafiul secures Bangladesh vital victory
Bangladesh's bowlers held their nerve to atone for the failures of their batsman, as the pluck of the Irish proved insufficient to overcome the most fervent atmosphere of the World Cup so far. In a gripping, low-scoring encounter at Mirpur, Bangladesh flirted with disaster as they squandered a flying start from Tamim Iqbal to crash to 205 all out, and when Ireland reached 93 for 3 at the halfway mark of their reply, they were well on course for a hugely deserved victory. However, six wickets for the Bangladeshi spin quartet set the stage for a flying finish from Shafiul Islam, who claimed 4 for 21 in eight hostile and reverse-swinging overs, to seal a wildly acclaimed victory by 27 runs with five overs to spare.

The result was tough on the Irish who, like the Netherlands earlier in the week, gave the match their all and deserved a Test-playing scalp as their reward. But the belief and unity of the Bangladeshis had to be seen to be believed, as they dusted themselves down after a chastising performance with the bat, and set about defending their meagre total with skill, tenacity and some sublime commitment in the field. Mohammad Ashraful, whose mercurial batting once again let him down when the heat was on, proved a revelation with the ball, as his spin-bowling all-sorts picked up two vital wickets inside the first 19 overs, and whose subsequent celebrations imbued both his team-mates - and perhaps more crucially, a rammed and expectant Mirpur crowd - with belief.

There will be many higher-profile fixtures than this in the coming weeks, but few could prove as pivotal to the fortunes of two teams who exceeded expectations four years ago in reaching the Super Eights in the Caribbean. Ireland's hopes of playing in the 2015 tournament hinge on their ability to produce this sort of performance in each of their next five matches, to convince the ICC that they deserve their place at the top table. But more immediately, Bangladesh's victory gives them a real chance of pushing for a quarter-final place that their form in home internationals suggests could be attainable.

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