Trott and Prior find form for England
Close Bangladesh A 202 (Raqibul 107* Tredwell 6-95) and 131 for 3 ( Raqibul 50* Tredwell 2-50) lead England XI 281 for 7 dec (Trott 101, Prior 73*) by 52 runs
Jonathan Trott eased to a trouble-free century in his first batting opportunity of England's tour of Bangladesh, while Matt Prior chipped in with a quickfire 73 not out, as England finetuned their preparations for next week's first Test on a sleepy second day in Chittagong.
In humid conditions, but against a lacklustre Bangladesh A attack whose request to replace the injured Syed Rasel, who has a shoulder problem, with Mahbubul Alam rendered the first-class status of the contest null and void, Trott added 69 runs to his overnight 32, before retiring after reaching three figures in the first over after lunch. By the close, Bangladesh A had reached 131 for 3 in their second innings, a lead of 52, with James Tredwell adding two more victims to take his match tally to eight.
If Tredwell and Trott were slightly miffed by the removal of their efforts from the record-books, then neither man showed it in a disciplined day's work, as indeed did Bangladesh's Raqibul Hasan, who followed up his excellent first-innings hundred with another sterling performance. He finished the day on 50 not out from 96 balls, and demonstrated his growing confidence by smacking Tredwell for consecutive sixes in the final half-hour, before easing to his fifty in the penultimate over of the day.
Alongside him at the close was the ever-scrutinised Mohammad Ashraful, whose form in the past fortnight has been nothing short of woeful, with 22 runs in five innings, including three ducks. But today he came out with his aggressive persona in place, taking the attack to Tredwell with two hearty mows for four. In surviving to the close on 14 not out, he gave himself a late shot at redemption, with the Bangladesh squad for the Test series yet to be announced.
One man who will definitely feature at Chittagong is Trott. Having missed the ODI series to accommodate Craig Kieswetter, and with his Test form under scrutiny after an anxiety-laden tour of South Africa, his response was timely to say the least. The bulk of his runs came in partnership with Ian Bell, with whom he added 96 for the fourth wicket before Mehrab Hossain Jr popped up with his left-arm spin, just as he had done against Kevin Pietersen on the first evening, and extracted an lbw verdict as Bell, on 48, shaped to flick the ball through midwicket. After the break, the cudgels were picked up by Prior, who clipped along to a 48-ball half-century, as England declared on 281 for 7.
In front of the smallest crowd of any day of the England tour to date, and against an attack that looked distinctly lacking in any genuine quality, time in the middle was the only real benefit on offer ahead of next week's first Test, and Trott certainly seized that, as he extended his stay to 134 balls, with his only real moment of alarm coming on 42, when Dollar Mahmud was denied a loud shout for lbw.
When Trott resumed on his overnight 32, he was under the impression that the game was still first-class, but with the blessing of the England management, Mahbubul was introduced to the attack as a direct replacement for the injured Rasel, and hence Trott was denied his 21st first-class century (and Raqibul his third). Andy Flower's stated preference is for 11 v 11 contests in such fixtures, but when Steve Davies came out to keep wicket for England to give Prior a rest after his innings, the pretence of competitiveness finally vanished from the game.
Nevertheless, the Bangladesh A bowlers did keep plugging away, with Mahbubul claiming two scalps, first when Tim Bresnan chopped loosely to Raqibul at backward-point for 9, and then when Tredwell was caught behind for a duck. Prior, however, showed nimble footwork and an eye for the gap to rush to 73 not out from 71 balls, and confirm his readiness for the fast-approaching first Test.
Bangladesh A's reply started positively, as Junaid Siddique and Shamsur Rahman negotiated 11 overs before tea without fuss, but after the break, Tredwell returned to the fore. First to go was Shamsur, who edged to Davies for 23, and two overs later, Mehrab edged low to Alastair Cook at slip for 4. Pietersen's part-time offspin then extracted Junaid for 37, but Raqibul and Ashraful, who could yet feature in Bangladesh's middle-order next week, batted through to the close with no alarms.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.