Bangladesh v England, Super Eights, Barbados April 11, 2007

Short and fast does the trick



Sajid Mahmood exploited the pace and bounce of the Bridgetown pitch quite superbly © Getty Images

Bangladesh's bowlers did a superb job of nearly pulling back an irretrievable position - especially in conditions which were hardly conducive to slow bowling - but in the end the game was lost when the batsmen only managed a meagre 143. It's easy to fault the batsmen, but in conditions which were completely unlike what had been seen in the earlier games, it was almost inevitable that Bangladesh would struggle after being put in.

The biggest difference, when compared to the earlier games, was the manner in the short balls climbed uncomfortably and zipped through to the wicketkeeper. In most of the pitches in this tournament, the short ball was an unwise option - the ball just sat up nicely and invited batsmen to have a crack at it. Here the short ball was a wicket-taking option - from the 47 such balls that the England fast bowlers bowled, Bangladesh managed just 17 runs. Sajid Mahmood understood the plot early - when he pitched it up he leaked 13 from seven deliveries, but when he pitched it on a good length or shorter, he conceded just 12 from 43 balls.

The lengths that England's fast bowlers bowled v Bangladesh
Length Balls Runs Wickets Runs per over
Full length 15 27 0 10.80
Good length 122 57 5 2.80
Short 47 19 1 2.43

These results were quite a contrast to the match on Saturday, when South Africa's fast bowlers got little reward for pitching it short. South Africa will be playing their last match of the Super Eights at this ground, against England, in a game that could be crucial to the semi-final chances of both sides. If the pitch is anything like it was today, expect the fast bowlers from both sides to be queuing up to have a bowl.

The lengths that South Africa's fast bowlers bowled v Bangladesh
Length Balls Runs Wickets Runs per over
Full length 48 58 2 7.25
Good length 108 67 2 3.72
Short 131 89 3 4.08

Future prospects

The defeat has considerably diminished Bangladesh's dream of making it to the semis, but - like it was for West Indies after their defeat to South Africa - they aren't completely out of it yet. They'll obviously have to win their last two matches, against Ireland and West Indies, and then hope that the rest of the results pan out in the following way:

  • South Africa lose their last two matches, against New Zealand and England, to remain on six points;
  • England beat South Africa but lose to West Indies, so that they are on six points as well

    In such a case, there'll be a three-way tie between South Africa, England and Bangladesh, with each on six points. With Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka already having more points (assuming Sri Lanka beat Ireland they'll have at least eight), the net run rate (NRR) will then decide which one out of South Africa, England and Bangladesh make it as the fourth team. Bangladesh's NRR of -1.43 is the worst of the three teams, but a couple of wins will surely lift it. So while the prognosis is bleak, it isn't all over yet for Habibul Bashar and his team.

    For England, their next game, against South Africa, is a must-win encounter. A defeat there will leave them on the very brink of elimination - their only hope then will be for Sri Lanka to lose their last three matches, including the game against Ireland. Given Sri Lanka's form in this tournament, Michael Vaughan might not be too happy banking on such an eventuality.

    Click here to view the points table

    S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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