Chris Woakes walked off the field with a left side strain after bowling just two overs and Eoin Morgan’s face hinted, he was fearing something worse on a track which was an absolute batting paradise. Morgan’s plan to extract something from the fresh wicket hampered as the Bangladeshi openers, Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar weathered the storm early quite gallantly and then stitched a 56-run stand within first twelve overs. England fetched two Bangladesh wickets for less than hundred runs, but the confidently constructed 166-run stand for the third wicket between Tamim and Mushfiqur Rahim sowed the seeds of frustration among the players of home team.
Tamim was at his pristine best. It was one of those days when a batsman can do anything with the bat whatever he wishes to do. If Morgan wished to stranglehold Tamim’s scoring rate, he would find the gaps and rotate the strike and even if the English skipper wished to attack him, Tamim would counter attack. At the other end, Mushfiq was in a similar mode of Tamim. While the focus had always been on Tamim, Mushfiq chipped in silently to notch up a productive half-century.
Bangladesh were sitting pretty until the partnership broke. It seemed the Tigers would accelerate in the end overs to give England a tough total to chase. But as soon as the partnership broke, Bangladesh failed to unleash the swashbuckling batting display. Bangladesh’s 250 came up in 43.3 overs and in the remaining overs, they could add just 55 more runs which was a disappointing finish.
On such a flat deck,305 runs was never going to test England who’s batting lineup is studded with fearless stroke makers and chasing big totals has become one of their favourite jobs over the years. As usual, they chased down Bangladesh’s total without breaking enough sweat and started off the tournament in a commendable fashion.
Definitely, England deserve all the accolades. They are the pre-tournament favourites and were expected to win. From a cricketing point of view, the expectation regarding Bangladesh was not sky high, but one cannot deny about the capabilities of the Bangla boys who can crush any opposition on their day and thus, when Tamim and Mushfiq batted with sheer dominance, the level of expectations rose. From the perspective of a Bangladesh follower, things could have been different had the Tigers been a bit more sensible in some areas.
Batting woes in the last ten overs
Time and again, Bangladesh batting seems to lose their momentum in the last ten overs. Especially, when they bat first. Not so long ago, in the tri-nation tournament in Ireland, they were well poised in the third match of the tournament against New Zealand and gave the impression of a challenging total in 50 overs, but all of a sudden, they lost their vim and failed to add enough runs. New Zealand won the match comfortably and even in last year, their story of struggle in last ten overs was evident.
Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and co kept the length full and varied their pace a lot after 44 overs and Bangladesh faced similar sort of situation against Hamish Bennett at Dublin last month. But sadly, Bangladesh did not learn their lesson well enough and failed to come up with a plan to attack in slog overs.
The ideal way to deal with such fullish deliveries in the death overs is to attack the ball like a baseball player – make enough room by dragging the back foot away from middle and allow the front foot to take over and hammer the ball out of the park. Above all, it’s very important to stand outside the crease to play the ball on a half volley length. Big hitters in the slog overs like Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan, Wasim Akram etc. used to apply such a ploy with a great effect. Modern day big hitters in slog over like MS Dhoni, Glenn Maxwell, Ben Stokes, Ravindra Jadeja, Corey Anderson etc. does the same as well.
Then, there are the modern day innovative strokes which have become a part and parcel of every batters in slog overs.
Despite having some gifted hitters like Sabbir Rahman and Mosaddek Hossain, Bangladesh are not able to capitalise effectively in last ten overs. Chandika Hathurusingha needs to run a special coaching session with his best hitters and polish them to reap a rich harvest in slog overs.
An attacking combination is the key
On a flat deck and against a team like England, it is always tough to defend 305 with just four frontline bowlers. When you have an option like Mehedi Hasan in the team and who has the history of injecting fear in the minds of English batsmen last year, it was not sensible enough to ignore him. Mehedi is a talented allrounder who can serve effectively both as a batsman and bowler. Moreover, his spin bowling could have added the much needed power in the Bangladesh bowling lineup. It would have been better if he was picked instead of Imrul Kayes and stick with the plan of sending Sabbir at number three. Sabbir is one of those batsmen who has that touch of a Ricky Ponting in him and can boost the run rate so that dullness doesn’t chip in.
Relying on part-timers for the fifth bowler option despite having better options is nothing but a defensive approach and Bangladesh’s success in 50-over format in last two years has not come due to a pragmatic ploy. Their attacking intent aided them to achieve big things and for which, the Bangladesh think tank needs to find the ideal combination which suits their fearless brand of cricket.
A plan to bowl effectively on batting paradise
The first match at the Kennington Oval hinted about what kind of tracks England would offer in the upcoming matches. In the majority of the cases, we are going to see a carnival of runs feast and it would be a hard time for the bowlers out there. But a team needs to find the right way to establish their existence amid this run feast.
The best way for them would be to dry up the runs from one end and create pressure from other. The length has to be full in death overs and try to extract enough movement with the new ball as much as possible. In the middle overs, lessening the flow of runs should be the key via using a spinner and if the plan is to break the partnership, a spin and pace bowling combination can be a very good option.
Bangladesh need to work on this more. The current team is capable of learning from their mistakes and bounce back.