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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh must execute to replicate England’s nightmare in Chittagong

Update : 08 Mar 2015, 06:45 PM

Almost four years ago to the date, inside a capacity filled stadium in Chittagong, a vociferous and ecstatic crowd saw Bangladesh come out of nowhere to stun a well-balanced and experienced England team. It was March 11, 2011. A match that every Bangladeshi had given up as a lost cause, turned on its head when a young, unassuming Shafiul Islam along with Mahmudullah pulled the rug under the Englishmen’s feet with a dramatic ninth wicket partnership of 58 runs. That win propelled Bangladesh forward and created an opportunity for it to qualify into the quarter final stage of the 2011 ICC World Cup, which it lost as it was cruelly overwhelmed by the South Africans. The West Indies and Bangladesh were tied on points but the Caribbean unit edged the hosts out as run rate came into play.

Well, this time around, the cruel factor of the run rate shall not come into play if the Chittagong drama is repeated. Bangladesh has a luxury point in the bag, which one may term as a bonus point - courtesy of the Brisbane washout against Australia. 

Going into this “do or die” fixture, there are a few positives that the Bangladesh outfit should take inspiration from. Firstly, their two wins against Afghanistan and Scotland displayed adequate examples of the team’s ability to perform well, more as a batting unit than anything else. In spite of the pitch being super friendly for batsmen, it takes courage and tenacity to gun down a score of 318 and win with nearly two overs and six wickets to spare. Secondly, the fact that England is struggling may create a window of opportunity through which Bangladesh may sneak in.

No one is denying the fact that England will go into the match as favorites. The bookies will have the odds in England’s favour. With Adelaide using a “drop in” pitch, there will be plenty of runs to play for. Bangladesh’s biggest worry is its bowling. Other than Shakib al Hasan, I do not see anyone worrying the top order of England. Mashfare bin Mortaza is struggling with his bum knee and whether he will be cleared to play remains to be seen. This pitch is not going to behave like the Zahur Ahmed Stadium pitch of four years ago and unless the bowling unit is on target, we may see a huge total confronting Bangladesh. The strength and penetration of Bangladesh’s bowling lies within its spinners led by the ebullience and experience of Shakib. It may be advisable to field a second specialist spinner to support Shakib. The part time spinners like Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain, if relied upon, could be an expensive proposition.

England’s biggest worry is the inability of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to make the expected inroads into the opponent’s batting line up. So far, between the two of them, only four wickets have been taken in the competition. Anderson is easily one of the most dangerous new ball bowlers because of his ability to swing the ball and reverse it over time. He has not been able to accomplish either. His tournament could have started off with a bang had Chris Woakes not dropped Aaron Finch in his first over of the World Cup. Finch went on to make a fantastic hundred that sealed the fate of the Englishmen and set them on their journey to the coal-pit. Since that opening match against the Aussies, they got thrashed by the Kiwis, beat a lowly Scotland and then got embarrassed by Kumar Sangakkara and the Lankan Lions when they failed to defend a total of 309.

England will be wary of Bangladesh and will not take the match lightly. Bangladesh on the other hand should approach this match with an open mind, since there is no pressure from any quarter, and look to produce its free spirited cricket. Whether the opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar will be maintained is something to ponder upon. England’s opening duo of Moeen Ali and Ian Bell have produced important partnerships and their contrasting approaches serve England well. This opening pair is followed by a fairly decent power packed middle order.

With both sides batting reasonably well, this can be a high scoring match. Anything below 280 will be sub-par so scores of 300+ is a number that one should not be surprised of. Bangladesh, on the field cannot afford to have the lackadaisical approach that it exhibited against Scotland if they want to stay in the match. If they do, England can and will run away with the game leaving the Bangladeshi spirit chasing the winds of Adelaide. This match will be decided by the bowlers. Those that show up with their boots on and come up with telling penetrative spells will lead their team to safer waters. This is one fixture that the world, specially the Australians, will watch very closely. Some of the Aussie veterans will probably be in the commentary box and I assure you that they will all silently root for a Bangladesh victory as will every single global individual donning the red and green. 

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