England v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Old Trafford June 3, 2010

Rust-free England target improvement

Match facts

Friday June 4 - Tuesday June 8, 2010
Start time 11.00am (10.00GMT)

Big Picture

It was comfortable in the end, but for the first four days of the Lord's Test, England were made to graft for their rewards against a Bangladesh team that exceeded expectations, and even dominated significant passages of a match that most observers had expected to be over long before the end of the Bank Holiday weekend. But thanks to the bold endeavours of Tamim Iqbal, who blazed a thrilling century from 94 balls, and Shahadat Hossain, who became the first Bangladeshi to etch his name on the honours boards with five first-innings wickets, the underdogs emerged with credit from an entertaining encounter.

All the same, the final margin of victory was emphatic - England hurtled home by eight wickets, having enforced the follow-on and knocked off their target of 160 in a single session - and as Andrew Strauss admitted after the match, he expects better from his charges in this week's second Test, now that they have worked off their early-season rust. In Jonathan Trott, they have a batsman in a rich vein of form following his under-rated 226 in the first innings, while Steven Finn is the talk of Manchester following his nine-wicket haul on a typically flat Lord's deck. Old Trafford is renowned for its pace and bounce, and if he finds the right length to exploit the conditions, another fat haul could be heading his way.

Seeing as Bangladesh claimed six wickets in their entire Test campaign in 2005, and managed to lose two matches inside seven sessions on that ill-fated trip, the extent of their development has already been showcased. The challenge now is to build on the foundations that they laid in the Lord's Test, and try their utmost to hang in for a draw - a result that would represent a major step towards their acceptance as a top-flight Test nation. Given the gung-ho style in which they go about their work, however, that might be expecting too much, but a fighting performance would still put them in a good frame of mind for the three ODIs that follow at the start of next month.

Form guide (last five completed matches)

England WWWLD Bangladesh LLLLL

Watch out for...

Steven Finn has never played a first-class match at Old Trafford - in his brief career, Middlesex have habitually been wallowing in the second division, out of contact with the top-flight Lancastrians - but when quizzed on the conditions, his eyes lit up at the prospect of playing at a pace-friendly venue where Steve Harmison produced arguably the last great performance of his England career, against Pakistan in 2006. As Finn's Middlesex mentor, Angus Fraser, pointed out, the benefits of honing his technique on puddings is that he will be all the more ready to cash in when conditions are in his favour. After three Tests of hard graft, this match could be bonanza-time.

Mushfiqur Rahim made his Test debut on the 2005 tour, and acquitted himself well during the recent home series with a battling 95 in the second innings at Chittagong. Scores of 16 and 0 at Lord's last week were a disappointment, but they do not detract from a high-calibre cricketer who has the mindset to bat for long periods, not to mention a diminutive 5'2" frame that cannot help but disrupt bowlers' lengths. He will want to sign off from this series with a significant contribution.

Team news

The four-bowlers-versus-five question reared its head midway through the Lord's Test, at a time when England were struggling to dislodge an obdurate Bangladeshi top-order, but it's unlikely that any changes to the balance of the side will be unveiled for this match, especially now that the likeliest candidate to bat No. 7 in a five-man attack, Tim Bresnan, is sitting out the game with a stress fracture in his foot. Ajmal Shahzad is getting used to being leapfrogged in the final XI, but having waited patiently for his chance, he could well make his debut at the expense of the late inclusion to the squad, Ryan Sidebottom.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Ajmal Shahzad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Andeson, 11 Steven Finn

Bangladesh's top-order batsmen acquitted themselves as best they could at Lord's, with significant contributions from Nos. 1 to 4. More will be expected of the middle order at Old Trafford, particularly the captain and wicketkeeper axis of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, but it is the bowling that will be the greatest concern to Jamie Siddons and the Bangladesh thinktank. Aside from Shahadat, the seamers were ineffectual at Lord's, and Shafiul Islam will come into the side at the expense of either Rubel Hossain or, more likely, the Lord's debutant, Robiul Islam, with the second spinner, Abdul Razzak, also an option. Tamim, meanwhile, gave Bangladesh a minor scare when he missed training on Wednesday, but he is expected to be passed fit despite the ongoing concerns over his injured wrist.

Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Jahurul Islam, 5 Mohammad Ashraful, 6 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Shahadat Hossain

Pitch and conditions

Manchester is not renowned for the most cheerful weather in the world, but the sun has been shining in recent days and the balmy conditions will doubtless be a boon to the Bangladeshis, who visibly struggled whenever the clouds took hold at Lord's. However, if Old Trafford's wicket plays up to its trampoline reputation, it will doubtless be a challenge come rain or shine.

Stats and Trivia

  • Their dominance isn't quite as comprehensive as it used to be, but England are still the only Full Member nation never to have lost an international match against Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh have only played one previous international fixture at Old Trafford, and that finished up as a ten-wicket defeat in June 2005, as Australia exacted emphatic revenge for their humiliation at Cardiff in the preceding week.

Quotes

"I know the way I bat sometimes looks fantastic, and sometimes looks ugly, but I am happy with the way I play my natural game."
Tamim Iqbal has no plans to temper his style after wowing the Lord's crowd during the first Test

"They are definitely getting closer because more of their batsmen have the belief they can get decent scores. But, like most sides, if you keep chipping away and pressurising them, eventually you will see a collapse of some sort."
Andrew Strauss expects another victory in the second Test, but doesn't expect it to be handed to England on a plate

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

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