When it comes to contemporary One-Day International (ODI) cricket, Bangladesh and England are undoubtedly the two most improved units in past couple of years. Since the 2015 World Cup, in terms of win-loss ratio, England have been the second best (1.615) after South Africa (2.090). In the list, Bangladesh too are sitting pretty with a ratio of 1.111, which is better than big boys like India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Both England and Bangladesh have completely transformed their games in this format. On the field, they have been aggressive, innovative and entertaining – an ultra-modern flavour, which has helped them to attract a lot of eyeballs. Both teams have settled line-ups which include plenty of match winners in white-ball cricket.
Now, the eighth edition of ICC Champions Trophy is the perfect stage to showcase the immense improvement, which they have made in 50-over cricket.
Three in three for Bangladesh?
The Tigers are coming into this fixture with some happy memories of beating England in the previous two encounters in ICC events (2015 and 2011 World Cups). However, this time it will be a completely different challenge altogether for MashrafeMortaza’s boys.
To outclass this in-form English team, which according to Indian skipper ViratKohli, ’doesn’t have any weakness’, Bangladesh boys have to raise their game significantly.
The hosts are fresh from their series win against number one ranked ODI team South Africa and has just lost only one of their six series at home following the group stage exit in the last world cup.
Bangladesh skipper fully understands this challenge.
“Look, it was [The 2015 World Cup triumph against England] a long time back. And after then, England is a totally different team. The way they are playing, if you look at the last two years, their performance, they win almost everything and especially at home, they are a serious side.
“You just can’t say that we are going to do [beat them again] that. But we know that we are also a better side; that we are a very improving side. Also, we are playing the last two or three years, pretty much good cricket,” Mortaza mentioned in his pre-match press conference at the Oval.
Unpredictable English conditions to dictate terms?
For the past three-four days, London is experiencing some indifferent weather. Mostly the mornings have been cloudy and it had its effect in recent matches.
On Sunday, in a warm-up fixture a strong New Zealand batting were restricted to 189 by the Indian bowlers, with Mohammed Shami being the destroyer in chief. Next day at Lords, we have seen England tottering at 20 for 6 –their worst start in ODI history –against the South Africa new-ball duo of KagisoRabada and Wayne Parnell. On the same day, on the other side of Thames, at the Oval, Bangladesh were bowled out for just 84 against India, with pacers taking nine out of their 10 wickets.
The early morning cloud cover aids swing in this part of the world and with similar weather is being predicted on Thursday, it can be an important factor in the game. Especially the Bangladesh cricketers, who are not familiar with such conditions, may have to be extra cautious.
No complacency in English camp
England may be playing their best limited-overs cricket these days and coming into this Champions Trophy as red-hot favourites, their skipper Eoin Morgan warned the team to guard against any sort complacency before taking on an unpredictable team like Bangladesh.
“I think it’s [Guard against being complacent] very important, particularly given that this competition is very unforgiving. You pretty much need to win every game in order to guarantee a good run throughout the tournament, and I think that’s exciting within itself.
“We need to bring our A Game if we’re going to win this trophy. If at the end of it, we are holding the trophy, I think we’ll have played really well,” said Morgan in his pre-match presser.
It seems that the England captain has a clear goal in mind, which is winning the first ever multi-team 50-over ICC event for the country.
Many in the cricketing fraternity doubt the significance of a tournament like Champions Trophy. ICC has tried to scrap it a couple of times, but because of immense eyeballs the last edition in 2013 got, they had to bring it back. However, for teams like England and Bangladesh, who are yet to win a global ODI championship, it is a tournament of a huge magnitude and a sell-out Oval crowd on Thursday will be there to get them going.