Strauss guides England into final

England beat Bangladesh by five wickets to gain their place in the NatWest Series final

England 209 for 5 (38.5 ovs) (Strauss 98, Trescothick 43, Manjural 3-57) beat Bangladesh 208 for 7 (Omar 81, Mashud 42, Flintoff 4-29) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball

Andrew Strauss sweeps on his way to 98, sealing England's place in the final © Getty Images
Andrew Strauss filled his boots against the Bangladesh attack for the third time in the NatWest Series as England comfortably sealed their place in the final with a five-wicket win at Headingley. Strauss was out with just one run needed, for 98, following Andrew Flintoff's 4 for 29 which restricted Bangladesh after they made a promising start.
Strauss attempted to finish the match in the grand manner, by reaching his century, but was bowled by Manjural Islam, the ball after hitting a six to get within two runs of his milestone (208 for 5). It was another impressive innings from Strauss and it is important that he now starts to take this form into the remaining matches against Australia - starting at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
A target of 209 was never going to be enough to trouble England, especially when Strauss and Marcus Trescothick continued to gorge themselves on the Bangladesh bowling. Trescothick was in great touch again and it was a surprise when he got a feathered edge against Manjural for 43 - a relative failure against after his previous scores of 100* and 85 against Bangladesh in the tournament.
Habibul Bashar was forced to turn to his spinners - Manjural and Mohammad Rafique - within the 15 overs and Trescothick took advantage and slog-swept into the Western Terrace (or Stand as it now prefers to be known). However, Manjural got his revenge when Trescothick tried another dab to third-man and got the thinnest of edges to Khaled Mashud (99 for 1).
Flintoff was promoted to No. 3 but he again failed to make the most of his opportunity when he fell lbw sweeping at Rafique (134 for 2). Kevin Pietersen gave the Headingley crowd a brief glimpse of his power, clearing the midwicket boundary once during his 23, before finding long-on as he attempted to win the match quickly (182 for 4).

Andrew Flintoff slowed the Bangladesh innings with two wickets in two balls © Getty Images
Bangladesh stuttered to 208 for 7 as England's bowling improved after a poor start with Flintoff leading the resurgence with another menacing spell. Javed Omar provided the backbone to the innings with 81 from 150 balls and Mashud brought some much needed late acceleration with 42 off 43.
Omar's innings was a model of concentration and he largely managed to eradicated the cross-batted shots that have been is downfall in this series. But at times it was questionable whether he was doing more harm than good to the innings. However, after their rapid collapse against Australia yesterday they can be forgiven for ensuring they batted out their 50 overs.
Simon Jones gained a useful workout. He grabbed the first wicket to fall, when Shahriar Nafees edged a expansive cut to first slip, where Trescothick took a well-judged low catch (22 for 1).
But Flintoff was easily the pick of England's seam attack after they generally wasted the new ball in a lazy display of bowling and fielding. As Tushar Imran attempted to increase the scoring rate he chopped into his stumps after comfortably scoring at a run-a-ball (92 for 2). It was typical of so many Bangladesh dismissals on this tour, with a batsman doing all the hardwork then losing concentration at the vital time.
Mohammad Ashraful had a perfect base to continue his scintillating form, but picked out Trescothick at midwicket from his first ball (92 for 3). Flintoff was then within a whisker of a hat-trick - although not as close as Tremlett last week - when Habibul Bashar just managed to get his pad outside off stump.
But Bashar did not last much longer and became another victim of Paul Collingwood's sharp fielding in the covers. Omar dropped the ball and set off for a single but Bashar's dive was not quite enough to get him home as Collingwood's underarm flick just clipped the stumps (112 for 4). When Aftab Ahmed was bowled by Ashley Giles, Bangladesh had lost all their momentum (138 for 5) but Mashud used his experience to ensure they at least passed 200 and gave England a decent chase.
Although not the most convincing of England's performances against Bangladesh, they still got the job done with plenty of time to spare. Now the attention turns firmly to Australia for the rest of the summer. Although Tuesday's game has no bearing on the final, some important psychological points can be scored ahead of the Lord's showdown.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo