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October 21, 2003
Frustration at Dhaka
© Getty Images
Even so, Bangladesh's batsmen did enough to prove they are no wet lettuces. Although they lost two of their most capable Test players in Javed Omar and Habibul Bashar, the manner in which Hannan Sarkar dug in to the close was reassuring. Dav Whatmore's team talk will have emphasised the need for time at the crease, and with eight wickets remaining, they will hope to bat until tea on the second day at least, and nibble as many sessions out of the game as possible.
Casualties were inevitable in this evening's tricky 19-over session, truncated to 11 by the offer of bad light - it would surely have been the same had England been batting. Bangladesh were faced with a spruced-up pitch and two fully charged seamers, in twilight conditions that were hardly improved by the full use of the floodlights.
In fact, it is astonishing that the match resumed at all, although a patient crowd of 8000 weren't complaining. The outfield was as sopping as a wet sponge in places, even if that first boundary that Sarkar steered through the slips raced away briskly enough.
But in their brief appearances, England's young players demonstrated their hunger for the limelight. Chris Read, in his first appearance behind the stumps for four years, was athletic and alert, as one tumbling leg-side save amply showed. Matthew Hoggard zipped the ball past the bat on several occasions, and was unlucky not to find the edge.
England's faith in Steve Harmison paid dividends as well. His extra pace and height proved too much for Omar to contend with, while the new caps Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty will have to wait until tomorrow to take centre stage. But Clarke at least suggested he is to the manner born. Few other debutants would have barged a senior player out of the way to snaffle their maiden catch, as Clarke did to his neighbour Ashley Giles in the gully.
Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be accompanying England throughout their travels in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
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