England close in on a thumping victory
England continued their dominance of the first Test at Lord's, easing to a lead of 420 before declaring, and then reducing the hapless Bangladeshis to 90 for 5 by the close. Unless some unscheduled rain puts a spoke in, early tomorrow England will complete a facile victory, in little more than two days, to restart all the arguments about whether international cricket is cheapened by this sort of one-sided mismatch. Next week's second Test, at a Riverside ground where the ball may well bounce and swing even more, could be even worse.
Once again the Bangladesh batsmen's shortcomings against the short, rising ball were all too obvious. Nafees Iqbal flinched Matthew Hoggard into the slips, young Mushfiqur Rahim gloved a nasty Andrew Flintoff bouncer to the wicketkeeper, and Mohammad Ashraful lobbed another short one out towards the gully, where Steve Harmison made an improbable plunge to pull off a spectacular one-handed grab.
There were also two quick wickets for Simon Jones. Habibul Bashar swatted his first ball straight to Hoggard at deep square, and then Javed Omar's patient 25 ended when he prodded one into Graham Thorpe's left hand at short leg.
At 65 for 5, with almost seven overs to go before the scheduled close, another wicket or two would have enabled Michael Vaughan to claim the extra half-hour in an attempt to polish things off inside two days. But to the relief of the embattled Bangladeshis - and the authorities who faced an expensive ticket-refund bill - the experienced Khaled Mashud played straight, while Aftab Ahmed stayed put, once flicking an unamused Flintoff for three successive fours. Bangladesh survived to fight another day ... just.
The backbone of England's massive innings was the second-wicket partnership between Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick, which was eventually worth 255. Trescothick was rarely troubled on his way to 194, although he did chip a sharp return chance back at Mashrafe Mortaza shortly before completing his 11th Test century (his first at Lord's). He reached three figures with a meaty drive that evaded mid-off and scooted to the rope for his 13th four, and treated the modest bowling attack with something like disdain after that. It was a surprise when, in sight of what would have been his second Test double-century, he feathered an attempted cut through to Khaled Mashud off the persistent Mohammad Rafique.
Rafique and Mortaza were the only bowlers able to put a brake on the scoring - Shahadat Hossain conceded his personal hundred in only his 12th over - and it was Mortaza who eventually broke the big stand, getting one to climb on Vaughan and take the edge.
Vaughan made 120, with 15 fours, after a slightly sketchy start. He was lucky to survive when pinned in front of middle stump by Mortaza, but umpire Hariharan kept the finger down, and Rafique's flattish left-arm spin bothered him occasionally. There were flashes of vintage Vaughan, though, most notably in a trademark one-legged pull off Mortaza which scudded to the midwicket boundary, and shortly before lunch he completed his 14th Test century with an uppish push that bounced in front of the cover fielder and bobbled past him. The fluid drives and whips off the pads were back in the later stages of his innings, however, and overall it was a fine effort.
As thoughts turned to the declaration Ian Bell and Graham Thorpe were on a hiding to very little, but Bell made the most of his chance, scooting to a neat half-century studded with five fours, the pick of them a Greg Chappellish on-driven flick for four past midwicket off the perspiring Anwar Hossain. Later in the same over Bell also collected a five, when a wild throw hurtled to the boundary after a quick single into the covers.
Vaughan eventually called a halt at 528 for 3, a lead of 420, about 20 minutes after tea. Bell's unbeaten 65 gives him a handy Test average of 135 after two innings, while Thorpe, in his 99th Test, pottered to 42 from 72 balls. They put on 113 untroubled runs before the declaration meant that Bangladesh had to face the music again for 22 overs - and once again they struggled to play the right notes.
How they were out
Andrew Strauss lbw b Mortaza 69 (148 for 1)
Missed one that pitched on leg stump and straightened
Michael Vaughan c Mashud b Mortaza 120 (403 for 2)
Nicked one that bounced and left him through to keeper
Marcus Trescothick c Mashud b Rafique 194 (415 for 3)
Edged attempted cut into keeper's gloves
Nafees Iqbal c Flintoff b Hoggard 3 (15 for 1)
Thick-edged shortish one to the left of second slip
Habibul Bashar c Hoggard b S Jones 16 (47 for 2)
Skyed pull to deep square leg
Javed Omar c Thorpe b S Jones 25 (57 for 3)
Pushed sharp catch to the left of short leg
Mohammad Ashraful c Harmison b Flintoff 2 (60 for 4)
Lobbed short one towards diving gully, fine one-handed catch
Mushfiqur Rahim c G Jones b Flintoff 3 (65 for 5)
Bouncer hit glove in front of helmet, looped to keeper
Steven Lynch is the editor of Cricinfo