Vaughan takes England home after Harmison's heroics
Leading from the front: Michael Vaughan heads England's victory charge
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England 295 and 164 for 3 (Vaughan 81*) beat Bangladesh 203 and 255 (Hannan Sarkar 59, Habibul Bashar 58, Mushfiqur Rahman 46*, Hoggard 4-48, Harmison 4-44) by seven wickets
England put the frustrations of the first four days behind them to complete a convincing seven-wicket victory with a dominant performance on the final day of the first Test at Dhaka. Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison wrapped up the Bangladesh second innings quickly, grabbing the last four wickets in 42 minutes, then Michael Vaughan led from the front as the required runs were knocked off with few alarms.
Little more than an hour after lunch, Bangladesh's 24th defeat in 25 Test matches was rubber-stamped. Even the weather smiled on England: although rain was forecast and the run-chase started under leaden skies and floodlights, the sun soon emerged.
Vaughan had been comparatively short of runs since assuming the Test captaincy. Before this match his highest score while wearing the armband was 33, but he improved on that in the first innings, then passed 50 for the first time today. He started the ball rolling with a confident pull for four off Mushfiqur Rahman, and rarely looked back after that. Vaughan's undefeated 81 included 12 sumptuous fours, the pick of them arguably a classic clip to midwicket off Enamul Haque junior.
Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick set off at quite a rate. Mysteriously, Khaled Mahmud delayed introducing his left-arm spinners, Enamul and Mohammad Rafique, who had been expected to pose the most problems. England's openers prospered to the tune of five an over against the seamers, and then, when Rafique finally was brought on, two Vaughan boundaries swept his side past 50 in the 11th over. But Rafique did strike in his second over: Trescothick charged down the pitch, mowed across the line and missed, and was easily stumped by Khaled Mashud for 27 (64 for 1).
Double strike: Matthew Hoggard's two early wickets gave England the ideal start
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Butcher soon avoided his pair, but didn't advance much further. He had made 8 when he tried to pull Rafique, but the ball squatted wickedly and trapped him right in front (86 for 2). In came Nasser Hussain, also on a pair, and he avoided his too, with a confident cover-dive for two. But it was another patchy innings from Hussain: he was missed twice, by wicketkeeper and then by slip, when he had made 5, then survived a close lbw shout, all off Rafique. It was no great surprise when he fell across the line and was lbw to Mashrafe Mortaza for 17 (128 for 3), even if the ball did seem to be sliding down leg.
That was the end of England's problems. Graham Thorpe's first ball kept low, but he pulled it anyway to get going. He and Vaughan kept the singles ticking over, and the winning run came in the 40th over, when Rafique speared one down the leg side that skidded away for a leg-bye.
The platform for victory was established when England polished off the Bangladesh second innings quickly. Harmison made the early breakthroughs: Mahmud played across a well-pitched-up straight one, and was leg-before for 18 (248 for 7), then Rafique edged low to Chris Read and was gone for 1 (254 for 8). Harmison won the Man of the Match award for his nine wickets, which beat Tony Lock's England record of eight on this ground, set against Pakistan in 1961-62.
Then Hoggard finished things off. First Mashrafe Mortaza was smartly caught waist-high by Trescothick at first slip for 1 (255 for 9), then a nipbacker beat Enamul's half-forward prod and trapped him lbw for a duck. That left England with a lower-than-expected target of 164, and 93 overs to get them if the rain held off.
And so England completed the victory most people expected when the match started. But Bangladesh, who have improved out of sight under their new coach Dav Whatmore, gave them a run for their money and embarrassed their visitors for long stretches. If the pitch for the second Test at Chittagong, which starts on Wednesday (Oct 29), turns as much as this one, then those romantic dreams of a maiden Test victory may linger for a little longer.
Steven Lynch is editor of Wisden Cricinfo.