ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Bangladesh v England, World Cup 2011, Group B, Chittagong
Bangladesh seek rebirth of spirit
March 10, 2011
March 11, Chittagong
Start time 2.30pm (0830 GMT)
The Big Picture
This time last week, England's return to Chittagong was being viewed with the sort of FA Cup-style angst that accompanied Arsenal on their recent trip to Leyton Orient. On paper it was clearly a mismatch, with England having emerged victorious in all but one of their 22 previous fixtures, in all three formats of the game. However, in light of their calamitous three-wicket defeat against Ireland, the contest was being earmarked as a make-or-break moment in England's campaign. Another slip-up here, and the quarter-finals would surely be out of reach.
That, however, was before two extraordinary results redressed the shift towards Minnow Power in a remarkably unpredictable Group B. First came Bangladesh's capitulation to 58 all out at the hands of West Indies in Dhaka, as a game that could have hoisted them right into the reckoning for the knock-outs instead sent the team's morale spiralling, with the nation's mood following suit amid dark and reprehensible scenes outside the stadium.
Then, two days later, came England's incredible comeback against South Africa in Chennai, as the team somehow found the will to defend a limp total of 171, with all ten of South Africa's wickets tumbling for 102 in a thrilling six-run victory. The net effect of those two results has been to draw much of the sting from this Chittagong contest. It's certainly not out of the question for Bangladesh to progress to the next stage, especially with Netherlands among their remaining opponents. But right when it most matters, their bubble of optimism has been cruelly pricked, while at the same time, the fear of embarrassment that might have undermined England's approach has been significantly eased by their dispatching of one of the form teams of the tournament.
Nevertheless, these two teams know each other inside-out, with the first half of 2010 including four Tests and six ODIs, split home and away - and the shorter the format, the smaller the gulf between the teams. Bangladesh could and should have claimed the second ODI in Dhaka 12 months ago, only for a nerveless Eoin Morgan to seal a two-wicket victory with his maiden England century. Then at Bristol in July, the Tigers finally pounced, with Shafiul Islam's last-over dismissal securing an epic five-run victory.
The perverse logic of England's campaign also helps to fuel the prospect of an upset. At some stage, surely, they are going to have to break the cycle of underachievement whenever they've been burdened with the favourites' tag, but having been given extraordinarily close shaves by Canada in a warm-up match and then by Netherlands in their Nagpur opener, the Ireland defeat was an accident waiting to happen. Thrice bitten, four times shy? You'd assume they'd have to learn sometime.
Following that abominable effort against West Indies, Bangladesh will doubtless feel liberated with their expectations back at rock-bottom. The intervening days have been devoted to speculation about Shakib's position as captain, with a media furore accompanying a photo apparently showing him gesturing to the crowd during the post-match presentations at Mirpur. At times such as these, the safest place is often the middle of a cricket pitch. A decent start and a pumped-up crowd, and who knows what could be possible.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...
England have had a rough time with injuries in the past few days, with Kevin Pietersen's hernia proving too much for the player to deal with, and Stuart Broad's side strain forcing him home early for the second time this winter. But the undeniable bonus is the return of Eoin Morgan, arguably the most innovative one-day batsman in the world game at present, and a man around whom England had built all of the strategies that have been so conspicuously absent from their suck-it-and-see approach to date. The broken finger he sustained in Australia has healed more quickly than anticipated, and he had been back in the nets with Middlesex before his SOS from Andy Flower. The aforementioned Dhaka century was a masterful example of how to finish a one-day innings. He's ready to start out again.
A calm 70 against India set the tone for Bangladesh's World Cup campaign, a violent 44 made the difference in a tight contest against Ireland. But never has Tamim Iqbal's importance to the Bangladeshi cause been so starkly demonstrated than during that debacle against West Indies. From the moment he chopped Kemar Roach to second slip in the first over of the match, the atmosphere was sucked clean out of the Shere-e-Bangla stadium, and with it the belief of all his team-mates. Against England, his role can only be amplified. He has smacked the small matter of three hundreds, two eighties and a pair of breezy fifties in his 11 matches to date, and by the end of the Tests in England, the bowlers' strategy was simply to wait for the hurricane to blow itself out. While he's still at the crease, Strauss and his men know they can't relax for an instant.
So many permutations for England to consider, with a new opening batsman needed to take over from Pietersen, and a replacement bowler needed to fill in for Stuart Broad. The one given is that Morgan will revert to his favourite No. 5 position, where he and Ravi Bopara could form a potent combination in the latter stages of an innings. Earlier in the week, Ian Bell was talking like a man who'd been told to renew his first-wicket alliance with Andrew Strauss, although Matt Prior could yet be asked to take up that challenge once again. There is some speculation about England playing three spinners, with James Tredwell a potential addition alongside Michael Yardy and Graeme Swann. But Ajmal Shahzad, who claimed Tamim for a duck when England last played an ODI in Chittagong, is the likelier replacement for Broad.
England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Michael Yardy, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Ajmal Shahzad, 11 James Anderson.
After a result such as the one they endured last week, the temptation might be to throw the baby out with the bathwater. However, Bangladesh have limited room for wholesale changes, and besides, the players who got their team into this mess ought to be the first to have to front up and get them out again. The one potential change is Mohammad Ashraful for Mahmudullah. Though Ashraful was picked primarily as a batsman, his allsorts spin bowling has proven to be the far stronger of his two suits to date. Mahmudullah, who is an offspinning allrounder, has a solid record against England including two Test fifties.
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Shafiul Islam.
Pitch and conditions
The weather has been dry and hot, though not unbearably so. The pitch promises to be a typical Chittagong strip of tarmac - dry and flat, with a touch of turn and low bounce. It was the livelier of the two surfaces on England's tour in 2009-10, though that is not saying much.
Stats and trivia
- England and Bangladesh have only faced each other once in previous World Cups - at Bridgetown in 2007, when England ground to an unconvincing four-wicket win.
- Tamim Iqbal has scored 730 runs at 48.66 in his 11 matches against England, including a run of six half-centuries in seven Test innings. His highest score against England, 125, came in his first match against them, the first ODI in Dhaka in February 2010.
- Andrew Strauss has never played an ODI in Bangladesh, having been rested for last year's tour. He scored 154 in his last match against them, at Edgbaston in July 2010.
"The boys will be a bit tense, but we know if we play our best cricket, we can beat any side. They are confident enough to do the right things."
Shakib Al Hasan expects an improved performance from his team.
"It's been great to be involved in some thrilling games. Personally I would have liked them to be a bit easier, I'd probably have a bit more hair on my head at this stage of the tournament. But we have shown a lot of character in a couple of those games certainly, and we want these last two games to be less close, to be honest."
Andrew Strauss is hoping for a quieter match this time around