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March 19, 2010
Match factsSaturday March 20, 2010
For two days in Chittagong it was a walk in the park for England, but over the next three it turned into a hard slog. Eventually they overpowered Bangladesh, as everyone imagined they would, but the team returned to Dhaka with some weary bodies and tired minds. With only three days to recover between matches (they may have had more with a bit more adventure) it will be a test of Andy Flower's claims that this is the fittest England side ever.
Bangladesh can take great heart from the way their performance improved during the match. It is clear they are forming the backbone of a decent batting unit with the flamboyant skills of Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah alongside the adhesiveness of Mushfiqur Rahim and Junaid Siddique. Shakib Al Hasan, their captain and leading player, had a poor game with the bat in the first Test and is due a score.
Their challenge again has to be to take the match five days - victory, surely, remains beyond them with a weak bowling attack - and ensure England climb aboard their flight home knowing they have been through two hard-fought Tests.
There is a feeling within the England team - although they are reluctant to say it - that they are pretty much on a hiding to nothing on this tour. A full hand of victories is all that was expected; any defeats would have been major embarrassments. Alastair Cook gave a forthright defence of his tactics after the first Test, but there was a sense of reactiveness rather than proactivity in his captaincy.
These, though, are early days for his leadership and he will be immensely satisfied to leave with his record intact. That may need another five days of hard work.
Form guide (last five completed matches)Bangladesh LLLLW
Watch out for...
Steven Finn has come a long way in a short time. A couple of weeks ago he was back in London preparing for a pre-season boot camp with Middlesex and now he has leapfrogged Liam Plunkett and Ajmal Shahzad into the Test team. His first appearance confirmed his promise as he troubled the Bangladesh batsmen on a slow, flat pitch. A return of two wickets didn't do him justice, but he'll have learnt valuable lessons about bowling on docile surfaces. The indications are he will get another chance in Dhaka to further advance his claims ahead of the home season.
Ever since he made his debut at Lord's aged 16, Mushfiqur Rahim looked to have the skills to withstand Test cricket. His double effort at Chittagong - 79 followed by 95 - suggests he has come of age at the highest level as he twice left the England attack with little idea of how to remove him. It took a great catch in the first and an ill-judged charge in the second to bring his downfall. Given some of the frailties elsewhere in the order Rahim is suited to a position higher up, but for now at least he seems set to stay at No. 7. For the good of Bangladesh it might benefit them in the long term if he gives up the wicketkeeping gloves and slots in at No. 4.
Bangladesh have confirmed two changes, with pace bowler Shafiul Islam replacing the disappointing Shahadat Hossain, while Jahurul Islam will make his debut in the middle order in place of Aftab Ahmed. The onus will be on Bangladesh's spinners to have more of an impact than they managed in the first Test.
Bangladesh 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Jahurul Islam, 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain
England are likely to stick with an unchanged team, which means no spin support for Graeme Swann after his 10-wicket haul in Chittagong. Cook has virtually guaranteed that the seven batsmen will remain, so if a change is made then it will be Finn who would make way now that Stuart Broad has recovered from illness.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Michael Carberry, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ian Bell, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Tim Bresnan, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 Steven Finn
Pitch and conditions
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, said he expected a little more life in this surface but it is likely to remain heavily in favour of the batsmen. A touch more bounce would please everyone - except, perhaps, the home side's batsmen - and the spinners will be hoping for more help from the footmarks. Temperature wise it will be hot again, with the mercury hitting the high 30s on most days.
Stats and Trivia
"We bowled, I think, nine maidens in 145 overs [138.3]. It's ridiculous, and it's not good enough. Test cricket should be a game where you have to work a lot harder for your runs, but we couldn't bowl one side of the wicket, and when we wanted to bowl at the wickets we couldn't do that either."
Jamie Siddons doesn't pull any punches when assessing Bangladesh's bowling in the first Test.
"They were probably very close to the mark and Swanny has apologised, but we want to play hard, aggressive cricket and our disciplinary record over the last couple of years has been exceptional."
Alastair Cook wants his team to maintain an aggressive approach.
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