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March 12, 2010
Decision of the day
Six years ago in Chittagong, Bangladesh won the toss against England, with a pair of classy spinners in their ranks and against an opposition bowling attack featuring a hotch-potch of debutants, stand-ins and the recently injured. Everything about the situation demanded that they bat first, overcome their concerns about the moisture in the wicket on the first morning, and give their spinners last use on a surface that was sure to deteriorate. Instead, they bowled, and were duly thumped by 329 runs. Six years, and 39 Tests later, and Shakib Al Hasan suggested that he had learned nothing from Khaled Mahmud's defeatist approach, as he meekly followed suit.
Smokescreen of the day
The England management have developed a self-gratifying obsession with team secrecy. Every question pertaining to selection in the week leading up to the match was greeted with a stonewaller's grin from either Andy Flower or Alastair Cook, and no matter how convoluted the delivery, the result was invariably a dead bat and a soft-handed poke back down the pitch. Two days ago, the travelling journalists thought they had cracked their defences, when Cook inadvertently used the word "they" when referring to the anticipated workload of England's spinners, and James Tredwell was duly inked into most starting line-ups. This morning, however, through a smoky haze, two new players were handed their caps in the England team huddle, but the men who stepped forward were Michael Carberry and Steven Finn.
Six-hitter of the day
Cook is not renowned for taking the aerial route. In the whole of his 53-match Test career, he had only cleared the ropes on two occasions until today, and the first of those was a streaky top-edge that caught the breeze at Wellington, two years ago this week. But today, he doubled that tally en route to becoming the fifth England captain to make a hundred in his first Test in charge. That fact that he reached the mark with a hefty hoist over midwicket will have been doubly satisfying to a man who only last week was deemed surplus to requirements for England's World Twenty20 squad.
Hoodoo of the day
Kevin Pietersen could never have imagined that a Test in sleepy Chittagong could prove so personally crucial. But after a sketchy tour of South Africa and a measly tally of 69 runs in seven innings in Bangladesh, the time was nigh to silence his critics in the only way that really matters. And for 134 balls and 99 runs he produced a superb riposte, an innings of smouldering authority that seemed to have established an unequivocal return to form. But then it happened - a defensive aberration against the left-arm spin of Abdur Razzak, the man who claimed his wicket in each of the last two ODIs. It's hard to recall KP looking so utterly gutted as he left the field. So near to ending that debate about left-armers. So near, yet so aggravatingly far.
Debut of the day
The beanpole Finn will have to wait for his chance to impress, but Carberry's initial foray has been and already gone. And just like his 35 from 28 balls in the three-day warm-up, the initial impressions were a touch inconclusive. He started with a flood of confidence, as he lurched into the 20s with five fours in 12 balls, and during that period some of his drives were reminiscent of Mark Butcher in his pomp. But then, against the spinners, his momentum all but vanished, as he chiselled a further 7 from 33 before Mahmudullah nailed him on the sweep.
Atmospherics of the day
Even at 20 Taka (20p) a ticket, it was hard to persuade the locals through the gates for this one, and doubly so once word got around that Bangladesh were bowling and Tamim Iqbal's fireworks would be shelved for another day. The few who did drift in were lively enough in the circumstances, and suitably amused by the glut of Barmy Army beer-guts that briefly appeared in the stands at midwicket. But in real terms, there had been greater interest in the low-key one-day warm-up at the rural outpost of Fatullah, another sad indictment of Test cricket on the subcontinent. Especially one-sided Test cricket.
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.Feeds: Andrew Miller
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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