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Bangladesh make England sweat
Prem Panicker | April 11, 2007 21:12 IST
Last Updated: April 12, 2007 02:08 IST
England stayed in contention for a berth in the semi-finals of the World Cup after beating Bangladesh by four wickets in a Super Eights match in Bridgetown on Wednesday.
Chasing a meagre 144 runs for victory, England went through many anxious moments before overhauling the target in the 45th over.
The victory swelled England's tally to four points from five matches. Victories over South Africa and the West Indies, whom they meet in their last two outings of the Super Eights, could see them snatch a place in the semi-finals.
Earlier, pace bowlers Sajid Mahmood and James Anderson picked up five wickets between them and Monty Panesar three as Bangladesh were dismissed in 37.2 overs.Bangladesh innings (Overs 1-25)
One end of the refurbished Kensington Oval, Barbados, is called the Joel Garner end; the other is the Malcolm Marshall end.
Those two legendary fast bowlers, one sadly no more, would have loved the wicket on offer at the venue -- it was quick, it had bounce, and it aided seam.
A no-brainer then for Michael Vaughan to insert, on winning the toss -- and from the start of its innings, Bangladesh began to struggle on two fronts.
On the one hand, the batsmen had to make the adjustment from the low, slow Providence Stadium in Guyana, where the batsmen had reveled against the South African seam attack, while the platoon of slow left arm bowlers had made life hell when the Proteas batted.
And on the other hand, they confronted a lineup of England bowlers -- backed, throughout, by three slips � who used the conditions to the optimum, keeping it just back of good length to get bounce, and bowling tight lines along the off channel.
The result was a sorry procession, which began in the second over when Sajid Mahmood banged one in at pace. Tamim Iqbal, who in the first over had shown signs of his usual fluency with two fours off James Anderson, including a gorgeous lofted drive over extra cover, had no answer as the ball climbed on him and, with late movement, followed him as he tried to sway away. The batsman prodded in self defense, the ball lobbed up, and Paul Collingwood had all the time in the world to run over from gully to a wide slip position to hold (8/7; 9/1).
The next dismissal bordered on the bizarre. Mahmood bowled one just back of length; Shahriyar Nafees poked at it in a parody of a flick, the ball lobbed up and Michael Vaughan lowered even his usual fielding standards by dropping a dolly at close-in midwicket.
While Vaughan was giving the Keystone Kops a bad name, the two batsmen began to cross, looking to change ends before the dismissal was completed -- and they were in no hurry, probably because they couldn't conceive of anyone dropping that sitter.
Vaughan did, picked it up and in his irritation, fired it at the inoffensive Paul Nixon -- who merely had to take the bails off to get rid of Habibul Bashar, rudely cutting short his casual stroll (4/18; 23/2). Bashar has been promoting himself to three, presumably taking his duties as leader seriously -- but it needs saying that he looks horribly out of place in that position.
Deprived of the wicket by Vaughan's clumsiness, Mahmood produced a lovely delivery, fuller in length, angling across the left handed Shahriyar Nafees. It drew him half forward, left him late and at pace, and found the edge on the way through. Even so, Paul Nixon did his best to deny Mahmood the wicket, grabbing at the ball like a novice and managing only to palm it away, but Andrew Strauss at second slip kept his eye on the ball and held the rebound (9/18; 26/3).
Mushfiqur Rahim was sent out presumably to hold one end up. Andrew Flintoff came on in the 11th over, bowled one on a fullish length and Rahim, inexplicably staying back, pushed defensively down the wrong line and saw the ball slide past the outer edge to slam into the off stump (7/21; 40/4).
With conditions so helpful, Vaughan wasn't going to let up on the pace -- he brought Anderson back on from the opposite end in the 14th over, and the bowler did for Mohammad Ashraful with a delivery on off that bounced and seamed away late, flicking the edge of Ashraful's tentative bat on the way through to Nixon -- who, this time, did not need any assistance to hold the catch (1/6; 47/5).
Aftab Ahmed got going with a whip through midwicket to the first ball he faced; then played the shot again to the next ball and picked up another three. In his next over, the 16th, Anderson pitched it a bit further up inviting the drive; Ahmed bit the bait, went for the shot, and managed only to edge the ball as it seamed away late � and again, Paul Nixon showed he was man enough to hold his own catches (10/5; 65/6).
The interesting thing about the Bangladeshis -- perhaps being so ridiculously young has something to do with it -- is that they don't stop playing their shots. Saqibul Hasan in the 15th over leaned his weight back after coming onto the front foot, and carted Flintoff up and over the boundary at backward point for six. In his next over, Flintoff was first carved past extra cover, then hit in the same direction, next ball, only with even more murderous fury.
Having gone for 28 in four while his colleagues were bowling like Scrooge in a particularly dyspeptic mood, Flintoff got a change of ends, from Marshall to Garner, and treated himself to a change in line by coming around the wicket. At the other end, James Anderson made way for Monty Panesar and Saqibul pounced on a short delivery to flay it through square leg, showing deft touch and surprising power.
Mashrafe Mortaza, who likes to take the long handle approach, decided it was way too early for heroics and settled down to see the bowlers off -- often, seeing them off too close to his edge for comfort; but the bottom line for him was staying out there. At the other end, Saqibul too began playing the patience game, waiting for the right ball to hit, and letting the rest go through or come on and hit his defensive bat.
At the halfway mark, the two have done very well to keep the England bowlers at bay for the best part of ten overs, while adding 31 runs during this period. That may not sound so hot just now, but it pays to keep in mind that this wicket is apt to play quick and bouncy throughout the game, so a few runs on the board just might create uncomfortable moments for England's non-performing top order -- and to get there, Bangladesh needs to try and bat out as much of the 50 overs as it can.
Progression: 1-25 overs
5 overs: 22/1 @ 4.40 (Habibul Bashar 3/15; Shahriyar Nafees 8/10)
10 overs: 35/3 @ 3.50 (Mushfiqur Rahim 7/10; Saqibul Hasan 4/7)
15 overs: 63/5 @ 4.20 (Saqibul Hasan 19/29; Aftab Ahmed 8/3)
20 overs: 85/6 @ 4.25 (Saqibul Hasan 35/48; Mashrafe Mortaza 1/9)
25 overs: 97/6 @ 3.88 (Saqibul Hasan 37/57; Mortaza 7/30)
Overs 26 - end of innings
It is all well to suggest that patient crease occupation was what Bangladesh needed, but there is just so much a bloke like Mashrafe Mortaza can put up with.
Getting a mere 13 from 43 balls, without a single four never mind six to show, okay, but when it comes to having Monty Panesar amble in and toss that up, it is more than the spirit can bear.
So Mortaza lined up some spot a few miles above long on, and heaved. Panesar bowled that straight -- no turn no nothing, just a bit of air to invite mayhem, and Mortaza's heave went all around the ball, which crashed into off stump (13/43; 112/7).
Having discovered the trick, Panesar tried it again next over, this time to the left handed Mohammad Rafique. Unlike Mortaza, Rafique actually connected with his hit -- but only well enough to pick up Andrew Strauss, at long on (0/4; 113/8).
Abdur Razzak, the next in the assembly line of left arm spinners, wasn't going to let a little thing like those two wickets bother him too much. He wound up and cracked Panesar back down the track for four; then had another heave, which he mishit over mid off but managed a brace anyway. In Panesar's next over, Razzaq carved one wide of long off; he then got Collingwood off the toe of his bat to third man. One heave too many, though, put the ball high in the air and down the throat of Collingwood at a short mid on, to cue Panesar's celebrations (15/16; 137/9).
At the other end Saqibul, who had got off the blocks like a rocket, continued to play with calm common sense, reaching his 50 off 82 and continuing in untroubled fashion. He looked like he could have gone on to the end, but Said Mahmood came on � Vaughan apparently deciding he has had enough of part time stuff -- and banged one in; Syed Rasel, who had cracked a four the previous delivery, was just good enough to get bat on it and poke it to Flintoff in the slips to end the Bangladesh innings (4/2; Bangladesh all out 143; Saqibul Hasan not out 57/95 with six fours and 1 six).
England has an easy chase on hand, and a few goals it can aim for: Firstly, to ensure they don't give Mortaza and Rasel easy pickings on a wicket that favors seam and swing; secondly to keep an eye on the D/L par score, since clouds have been playing tag with the ground all morning; and finally, to take it across the line in a fashion emphatic enough to help their net run rate.
Progression: 26 - 35 overs
30 overs: 113/7 @ 3.76 (Saqibul 46/74; Mohammad Rafique 0/0)
35 overs: 131/8 @ 3.74 (Saqibul 53/90; Abdur Razzak 11/10)
If there is any justice in this world, Michael Vaughan should have got the man of the match for this game -- he struck the most decisive blow when he won the toss and asked Bangladesh to bat first, on a wicket that provided enough seam and bounce to test the best.
If the coin hadn't been favorable... if the pitch had not been quite so venomous... if Bangladesh had just a few more runs to bowl at... ah, the heart-breaking 'ifs' of cricket.. .
With the pitch behaving much better in the second half of the game, and with a target of 144 to hunt down, you expected a romp -- and you got, instead, a labored, asthmatic progress that made you think, at some point, that England was playing the Best of the World XI, and confronting a target in excess of 500.
Batsmen came, mucked up, and went. Ian Bell, first, not accounting for the natural angle the left handed Syed Rasel gets, and slicing an attempted drive straight to point as early as the fourth over (0/10; 7/1).
'He needs a big score and this is his best chance to get one' � that, in more or less those words, was what the likes of Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain and other English commentators kept saying throughout the English captain's brief tenure.
They knew it, Vaughan knew it -- but he just wasn't getting it. He played and missed; he played and found the fielders; 'It is nicely hit but straight to cover, Vaughan plays very correctly', they said.
In the sixth over, Vaughan made an awful meal of an attempted cut, off Rasel, only to be dropped by the keeper standing right up.
At the other end, Andrew Strauss scratched around for a bit, then hit a couple of good strokes through the covers -- and then, just when he had begun looking halfway decent, lost the plot against a Rasel delivery that angled across, then straightened after pitching, and took it on his pad in front of middle (23/37; 48/2).
Vaughan hung around till the 21st over, without doing much in all that time. And then he had this almighty sweep against Abdur Razzak, that managed only to put the ball up in the air for Habibul Bashar to hold with ease behind square (30/59; 70/3).
Kevin Pietersen's batting had a distinct shade of the petulant about it. It was almost as if the 'world's number one one-day player' did not appreciate being fed a diet of slow left arm spin, where the ball wasn't coming on for him to bash about. He kept hitting harder and harder, the Bangladeshis performed prodigies in the field to deny him much returns for his labors, and he finally went down the track and chipped Razzak straight to Farhad, the substitute, at midwicket (10/25; 79/4).
Flintoff decided there was no point pushing and poking, so he had a couple of carefree hits. The experienced Mohammad Rafique took him out with an absolute peach � an arm ball that drifted gently in, in the air; Flintoff backed away, looking to force with the turn but there wasn't any -- the ball came straight on, went under the flailing bat, and onto the stumps (23/21; 110/5).
Three balls later, England's latest savior Ravi Bopara was walking back. To the previous ball, Bopara had been beaten and hit on the pad, but Bucknor turned down the frenzied appeal. Rafique then produced the arm ball again, Bopara went on the back foot pushing in defense; like Flintoff, he misread the arm ball and played outside the line, and dragged the ball back onto his stumps off his inside edge (0/4; 110/6).
Collingwood and Nixon eked out 15 runs in just under six overs, and then the former had a narrow escape when Rafique found the leading edge, only for the ball to balloon tantalizingly just over his head.
A labored Collingwood, and Nixon -- who finally figured out that straight was the way to go against this attack, and deposited Rafique back over his head for a huge six in the 40th � finally inched England towards the total.
That six brought the ask down to 8 -- and then, with just two boundary hits needed, Mortaza and Razzak bowled three successive maidens. first Mortaza, then Razzaq, produced maidens. It was 23 deliveries from that six, before Nixon finally managed to push a single to midwicket.
Long story short, a Mortaza delivery hit some kind of crack outside Nixon's leg stump and flew over the keeper's head, in the 45th over, for the four that leveled the scores. And Nixon hooked a short ball for four, to seal the win, with just over five overs and four wickets in hand.
If awards were being handed out for such things, England would have been a shoo-in for the award for most unconvincing win of the World Cup. The credit really goes to Bangladesh -- even top teams would have found it tough defending 144, but Bangladesh held its nerve, and looked by far the better of the two sides on view.
5 overs: 15/1 @ 3.00 (Vaughan 5/14; Strauss 2/6)
10 overs: 30/1 @ 3.00 (Vaughan 9/24; Strauss 11/26)
15 overs: 50/2 @ 3.33 (Vaughan 17/40; Pietersen 0/3)
20 overs: 68/2 @ 3.40 (Vaughan 28/54; Pietersen 7/19)
25 overs: 85/4 @ 3.40 (Flintoff 5/5; Collingwood 7/14)
30 overs: 107/4 @ 3.56 (Flintoff 22/18; Collingwood 10/31)
35 overs: 117/6 @ 3.34 (Collingwood 17/47; Nixon 2/7)
40 overs: 136/6 @ 3.40 (Collingwood 21/60; Nixon 15/24)
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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