Bangladesh v England, 2nd Test, Dhaka, 2nd day March 21, 2010

Labouring England flirt with danger

First Bangladesh's tail ran them ragged and then the batting struggled to force the pace as England produced an insipid second day

There's still plenty time for England to get their act together and stage the recovery they require to maintain their 100% record against Bangladesh, but right at this moment they are flirting with embarrassment.

All winter long, attrition has been England's preferred approach to Test-match batting - whether it has been to save a contest, as at Centurion and Cape Town, or to win, as at Durban and Chittagong. So their chosen tempo on the second day at Dhaka came as no surprise. It did, however, look mighty peculiar when set against the efforts of their supposedly inferior Bangladeshi counterparts.

On the one hand, Bangladesh's No. 10, Shafiul Islam, spent the first hour of the day tonking England's attack to all corners of Mirpur - or, to be precise, the corners at third man and extra cover, both of which were left unmanned as England's rookie captain, Alastair Cook, endured a morning to forget. On the other hand, Jonathan Trott ground his way to a 147-ball fifty - an landmark that ate up exactly 100 more deliveries than Shafiul's, having spent almost as long on 0 (33 deliveries) as his counterpart, Tamim Iqbal, had required to reach his own half-century (34).

It's a state of affairs that has left Bangladesh in command of the contest without quite having full control, and while the last laugh remains to be claimed in three days' time, the hosts are doing well to stifle their giggles at present. With Shakib Al Hasan leaking barely a run an over from his first 24 of the match, they've got their opponents right where a four-spin attack would want them - scraping for runs on a sparse and slow surface, with a sizeable deficit still towering overhead.

"I wouldn't say we're evens," said Kevin Pietersen at the close. "I think Bangladesh showed a lot of fight and courage this morning, and we have definitely got a fight on our hands. But I think we are still looking to win this Test match. We bat down to No. 10, and if we bat all day tomorrow - which we should do on that [wicket] - we can get ourselves into a good position, and still play to win every game on this trip."

Nevertheless, the contrast between the approaches of the two teams remains stark. For all that Bangladesh are growing in confidence in their own conditions, England are not so unfamiliar with the subcontinent that they can disguise the witlessness of their day's work, particularly in the first session, in which 89 invaluable runs were segued onto their overnight score of 330 for 8 with barely a hint of a tactical rethink.

"They initially tried to attack me, but I was just waiting to hit the loose balls," said Shafiul, a man in his third month of international cricket, and with a previous top score of 13. "They [the England fielders] were telling me to hit sixes. But Naeem [Islam] was discouraging me from taking the aerial route, because if I hit in the air on this kind of wicket, that's a problem."

It was the sort of problem, in fact, that Cook himself encountered when his new favourite shot, the slog-sweep, resulted in a hole-out to midwicket. But by then, the captain's real crime had already been committed, after he opted - bizarrely - to operate with a split field including three men on the leg-side, not enough men in the slips, and no-one at third man, where nine precious boundaries were leaked to the Bangladesh cause.

"You put a third man in place when a player is guiding the ball down there," said Pietersen. "But at the end of the day, we had two slips and a fine gully, and then one slip and two gullies, and the ball still kept going in between them. In hindsight you can say maybe we should have shifted a fielder, but they were driving the balls through the covers and midwicket as well. Sometimes you have to say well played."

Or poorly bowled, maybe? Though Pietersen protested that the wicket was "a road", on which a well-set tailender could camp on the front foot with no fear of the short ball, it was still left to the rookie Shafiul to spell out the second lesson of subcontinental bowling. Having given his side a rare glimpse of the ascendancy with the bat, he set about following his team orders to the letter, bowling six overs for 13, at an economy-rate than none of England's seamers, bar the diligent Tim Bresnan, came close to matching.

"We were set a target to bowl dot-ball and maiden overs, without bothering about taking wickets, and we tried accordingly," said Shafiul. "We are now in a very good position, and [England] are a bit down. They would have been even more down with two more wickets - that would have been really good for us. But we fulfilled our target. It's now very possible for us to take the lead, but our bowlers have to continue to do well."

"They bowled two left-arm spinners, we had offspinners bowling into the right-handers and we bowled a lot of seam as well, and they were definitely easier to face than Shakib, who bowls wicket-to-wicket with pretty straight fields," explained Pietersen, without quite convincing anyone with his reasoning. "It's one of those wickets where you have to grind it out, when you've got two accurate spinners bowling at you."

And that, presumably, will be England's plan on day three, although the irony of their predicament won't be lost on the management, who rightly decided to reinforce their bowling after labouring to that five-day win in the first Test at Chittagong, but now find themselves that little bit lighter in genuine batting options. With Trott doing his best impression of Chris Tavare at the top, they've been light on get-up-and-go as well.

"The wicket was flat in terms of trying to get a batsman out," said Pietersen. "We've struggled to score runs, but none of the batsmen have ever really looked like getting out, because if you don't want to get out, then a batsman can bat all day. Every session has been quite hard, but we've just got to make sure that when one team breaks, it's not us who breaks. If we keep putting on the pressure, we could be 500 for 3, or 500 for 5 at the end of play tomorrow. Then it's a different ballgame."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajaram on March 22, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    England NEVER win on merit. They save matches through their 10th and 11 th men - Cape Town and Centurion against South Africa, and for added effect, also cheat by sending an unwanted Moobs physio + a bearded 12th man with an unwanted glove to delay a game, as they did at Cardiff against the Aussies.Shameful tactics. Justice will be done if England lose to Bangladesh in this Test.Even if they don't, the bottom - rated Bangladesh posting 419 against a so-called experienced attack England.

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    how many times more Bangladesh willbe victime of bad 2and half days almost 8 desicions went against BD......and rest of the world seems to be saying,"its a part of game".........its really very very bad for cricket

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Bangladesh is loosing control & it's caused only by the wrong decisions of umpires.Last 4 partnerships were built on those wrong decisions.Pietersen,Prior & Bresnan would go to only with single digit and Bell would also be out before his century.Both Tucker & Hill should get some punishment but I think they would be awarded.

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    Mr. Ashik Imran, r u dreaming in this morning? how could u say this?.i still belive that Bangladesh will take a marginal lead in the first innings.

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    Let's see what our bowlers can do.If they all out England behind Bangladesh and still they have to do bat well in 2nd innings and show their very best in bowling in 2nd innings of England and bowled them all before they reach the target.....still long long hurdle...but I will very happy if they save the match..draw....

    Mohammed Kamrul Hassan

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2010, 2:55 GMT

    The irony is that...England are creeping at the moment and if Bangladesh keep bowling this tight and make England struggle for runs it can still happen that England 320/10. So.. Mr Peterson be prepare for your next innings instead of making predictions. Don't get out cheaply to rescue England. but Bangladesh have to bat really well in second innings to make it tougher...England will not be able to chase 350 on fifth day here. shabash Bangladesh...!!!!

  • ashiq on March 21, 2010, 23:09 GMT

    i thought ENGLISH r very boring...........but peterson make me laught......but 500/3..........what r u still in ur day dream mr peterson......... that has to be the joke of the century............hahahaha..............

  • Bang on March 21, 2010, 22:20 GMT

    Oh Nafee, this is only thing what now Piterson can best say to save a face :)

  • Md. Abdul Halim on March 21, 2010, 22:07 GMT

    500/3 or 500/5???...........that's ridiculous!.........

  • Itrat on March 21, 2010, 19:25 GMT

    Wish you all the best great peterson to make this true (500/3) and save this test match. But this is true england won't win the WC2011.

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