Bangladesh can cause England problems
Match factsSunday February 28, 2010
Start time 14.00 (08.00GMT)
Given England's less-than-stunning one-day international record it is an oddity that they are the only nation not to have come a cropper against Bangladesh in any international fixture. They have been tested on occasions, although each time have managed to overpower their opposition. They will expect to do the same again, but may not find it the easiest of tasks against a side becoming more of a threat on home soil and showing some encouraging signs of development.
Of course that has been said of Bangladesh before only for them to slip back into bad habits and they do need to support the feeling of improvement with some results. A tour of New Zealand and the seamer-friendly conditions on offer there is hardly the ideal preparation, but conditions in Dhaka won't provide any surprises for Shakib Al Hasan's men.
In Shakib, Bangladesh have an outstanding cricketer and one of premier allrounders in the world game. He now carries a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders - as does every player in this country - but unlike the team's previous star name, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib appears to have the mental strength to cope with the demands.
In one-day cricket Bangladesh have enough skill to upset England if the visitors don't hit the ground running and take the contest seriously. With Andy Flower in charge complacency won't be an issue, but this isn't the strongest possible England team and Alastair Cook, the stand-in captain, is under pressure to ensure against any upsets. A defeat in any of the internationals will heap pressure on Andrew Strauss's decision to skip the tour.
England, though, have prepared reasonably well with, as in 2003-04, a focus on fitness along with skills. The two warm-up matches were won with ease as the batsmen, apart from Kevin Pietersen, spent useful time in the middle and the fringe bowlers were given a chance to stake their claim. They should have enough to withstand the Bangladesh challenge, but it isn't the foregone conclusion it has been in the past.
Form guide (last five completed matches)Bangladesh LLLLL
Watch out for...
Shakib Al Hasan is Bangladesh's star man, but their top-order batting also packs quite a punch. Tamim Iqbal can be a destructive batsman on his day, as he showed when crashing India for 151 last month, and the one-day game is made for his flamboyant strokeplay. However, as with most Bangladesh batsmen, it's about moulding attack with defence and that's an area Tamim doesn't always get right. Often Jamie Siddons, the coach, is left exasperated with a soft dismissal but there is immense talent oozing through that flashing blade.
For England, boundary-hitting early in the innings remains a problem yet to be solved and Craig Kieswetter is set for his chance to show he's the answer. It's been a rapid elevation for a man who wasn't in the squad a week ago and is now on the verge of an international debut. His form for the England Lions was strong, but it was the 143 in the first warm-up match which has made his case irresistible. However, his call-up has provided a headache over the wicketkeeping position although Matt Prior is unlikely to be dumped from the line-up just yet.
Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh's leading pace bowler, may not be risked for the opening match despite coming through the warm-up game against England for the BCB XI following his latest knee injury. Spin is likely to play a key role in their plans as they aim to exploit a traditional weakness of England in one-day cricket. The top order is missing Ashraful, but Shakib and Mahmudullah have both been in productive form of late.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Zunaed Siddique, 4 Aftab Ahmed, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 8 Mashrafe Mortaza, 9 Abdur Razzaq, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain
How quickly England's one-day plans change. Despite a victorious series in South Africa they are set to have another new opening duo. One change is forced with Cook leading the team in place of Strauss, but Kieswetter's form has put the cat amongst the pigeons and he will force Jonathan Trott out of the XI. With Prior probably retaining the gloves - for now, at least - the only other major question is one spinner or two.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Craig Kieswetter, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Luke Wright, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Tim Bresnan, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 Ryan Sidebottom
Pitch and conditions
Cook expects a "fair wicket" with scoring likely to be easier when the ball is hard. Stuart Broad has said he will use plenty of slower balls and cutters, as he did in Sri Lanka in 2007, so it could turn into a battle of attrition. Dew could be issue later in the evening and it was often a problem during the recent tri-series involving India and Sri Lanka.
Stats and Trivia
"In our conditions we play really well, we're a developing team and growing in confidence. England need to be at their best to beat us and they've left a couple of key players behind so I'm thinking that could be the difference, but we'll have to wait and see."
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, has the belief his side can prevail
"There's a bit more pressure riding on it but I'm really looking forward to that pressure. It's a hugely proud moment for me."
Alastair Cook is ready to lead England out in place of Andrew Strauss
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo