It took five long days of toil in Mirpur, but England eventually ground out victory over Bangladesh in the second match of the series to complete a whitewash over the hosts, having won the preceding ODI series 3-0. However, the manner of the victory was not particularly convincing and has raised doubts over the quality of this England side, and whether or not they will be able to retain the Ashes down under come winter.
Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain opted to bat first after having won the toss and everyone was treated to a great display of batting, as opener Tamim Iqbal once again entertained, smashing 85 off just 71 deliveries. He perished after miscuing a delivery from England debutant James Tredwell who returned figures of 2-99 from 31 overs. Mahmudullah struck 59 and was well supported by captain Shakib who hit 49. There were also contributions of 59 and 53 from Naeem Islam and Shafiul Islam respectively. Bangladesh finished on 419 all out, but will have rued the fact that none of their batsmen went on to make a telling score. Swann again was England’s best bowler as he picked up four scalps, but he was well supported by both Tredwell and Bresnan, the latter taking 2-57 off 21 overs. There was also a wicket apiece for Broad and Finn, but the spinners were predominantly used on a wicket that offered little assistance.
In reply England laboured to a total of 496 from just short of 174 overs, a run rate of under three runs per over. On the Sky Sports coverage Paul Allott described England’s batting in the first innings as “devoid of ambition”. This was evident in Trott’s batting as he hit 64 off 195 balls after having been elevated to open the batting in place of Michael Carberry, who was replaced by Tredwell. Pietersen played beautifully for his 45 until he inexplicably hit a Shakib delivery straight to short extra cover. At 174-4 England were well short of Bangladesh’s total, but a masterful 138 from Ian Bell ensured that England had a lead. He was ably supported by Matt Prior who hit a rapid 62 in the context of the innings, and Tim Bresnan, who fell nine runs short of a maiden Test century.
In the Bangladesh second innings, Tamim again looked dangerous in hitting his second half-century of the match, but was well caught by a diving Broad from the bowling of Swann. Shakib was the only other batsman to score more than fifty as he fell just four runs short of what would have been only his second Test century. Tredwell returned figures of 4-82 from 34 overs, a very impressive effort on debut. Both Swann and Broad picked up two wickets, Bresnan and Finn getting one each. As their innings wore on into the final day, there may have been some cause to worry, but England picked up wickets at regular intervals, and following the dismissal of Shakib, England were set a target of 209 to secure a 2-0 series victory.
England’s second innings began comfortably until Trott was given out by the third umpire following a run-out appeal, although, television replays showed that Trott should have been given the benefit of the doubt. However, England were not made to suffer from the poor umpiring decision as both Cook (109*) and Pietersen (74*) batted majestically to guide England to victory. Bangladesh did not make the target of 209 difficult for England: what could have been a tricky target was made easier by the way in which they appeared to give up, resorting to time-wasting tactics. England’s last day performance was impressive – Cook batted at a very good tempo striking his 109 not out from 156 balls, whilst Pietersen supported him superbly, hitting 74 not out from 79.
Despite the relative ease of the nine wicket victory on the final day, Cook has been criticised for a lack of inventiveness as captain. Yet, we must bear in mind that it was his first series as captain, and, in securing an ODI and Test series whitewash he has achieved everything that could have been hoped for. We must also consider the tough playing conditions in which England were playing, having to bowl in hot temperatures on very flat wickets.
Furthermore, positives have been drawn from the series: Bresnan has impressed, scoring runs in both the ODI and Test matches, whilst bowling well and picking up valuable wickets. He may be an ideal long-term replacement for Andrew Flintoff as England search for a bowling all-rounder to balance the team. Tredwell has also impressed, showing that he is a more than adequate backup for Swann. Swann himself has maintained his excellent form in Test cricket, and Pietersen has regained his: after a poor tour of South Africa, he hit 250 runs in the Test series at an average of over 83. Cook has proven that he can lead the Test team: his captaincy may not have been particularly inspiring, but he was efficient, as indeed were England, who eventually wrapped up what was a comfortable victory.