On Sunday afternoon, England secured what was essentially an assuring victory of an innings and eighty runs against a below-par Bangladesh side. However, England did not have it all their own way in this second Test match. There were periods when Bangladesh had the upper hand, yet they failed to push home their advantage, something which ultimately proved extremely costly.
The match began on Friday morning, with England skipper Strauss winning the toss and opting to bat on an Old Trafford pitch where England have been very successful in recent years. In fact, the victory in this match was England’s sixth in their last seven outings in Manchester, with the other game being the famous draw against Australia in the 2005 Ashes series. The opening pair of Cook and Strauss began well, but both got out after having established themselves at the crease. Strauss edged to slip for 21, and he was quickly followed by Jonathan Trott who made only three before being clean bowled by Bangladeshi seamer Shafiul, called up to the side following their defeat in the first Test. Cook was well caught at slip off the bowling of Razzak, also recalled to the side, before Pietersen and Bell began to dominate proceedings. KP played some remarkable strokes as usual, but just as he began to take control of the innings he was stumped by Rahim off Shakib for 64, swiping at the ball in ugly fashion. Bell brought up his fifty as he and Morgan shared a stand of exactly seventy, before Morgan was caught superbly in the gully by Jahurul to end his innings on 37. Morgan would have been hoping for more runs in his first series in Test action, but it looks likely that he will be replaced by Collingwood when he returns to the team. Morgan will be hoping to improve his first-class game for Middlesex and continue his form in international one-day cricket to stake his claim for a regular place in the Test side. Bell and Matt Prior saw England through to the close on 275-5, Bell 87 not out overnight, with his sights firmly on a hundred the next day.
The second day began well as Bell had to wait only twenty minutes before bringing up his eleventh Test hundred with a nice drive on the off side. He has proved many of his doubters wrong since this winter in South Africa, and will be hoping to continue his form into the series against Pakistan later this summer. Prior batted nicely in the morning session, bringing up his own fifty, before Bell was finally dismissed for 128, bowled by a ball that ripped from Shakib. Swann played a typically entertaining innings of twenty from just seventeen balls which prompted the lunch break, with Ajmal Shahzad having to wait a nervous forty minutes for his first Test innings. He was dismissed for only 5 after the restart however, Prior was caught trying to switch hit for 93 and Finn was trapped lbw for 0, with Shakib taking the last three wickets, and wrap up his five-wicket haul (5-121) to leave England 419 all out.
Bangladesh’s openers began well, with Tamim playing an array of attacking strokes that put the England bowlers off stride, bringing up his fifty in just the fourteenth over of the innings. Finn eventually got the breakthrough, bowling a short delivery that Kayes hooked straight to Shahzad for his first catch in Test cricket. Tamim brought up his hundred soon after, cutting Swann for four, his fourth Test hundred, in just 99 balls. Swann had Siddique caught behind for one, before Anderson had the talismanic Tamim caught behind for 108 off 114 balls. His dismissal put England into the ascendancy, Swann bowling Jahurul and having Shakib caught at slip by Anderson. Shahzad then picked up his first Test wicket, Ashraful smashing a short wide delivery straight to Morgan at backward point. He followed it up by clean bowling both Mahmudullah and Shafiul in an impressive display of bowling with the old ball. Swann then dismissed both Rahim and Shahadat to claim his seventh Test five-wicket haul, leaving Bangladesh 216 all out, 203 runs behind England at the close of play, with Andrew Strauss pondering the decision whether to enforce the follow on or not overnight.
The morning session was washed out as bad weather hit Manchester and disappointed the fans. But play began shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon, and the crowd had cause to celebrate as Anderson dismissed the dangerous Tamim for just 2, having him caught behind from a super delivery that bounced sharply. Finn had Kayes caught by Shahzad again, Anderson had Siddique caught by Pietersen in the gully, and Finn had Jahurul caught behind leaving Bangladesh 21-4. It was soon 39-6 as Anderson had Ashraful caught by Trott at slip, and Shahzad clean bowled Shakib, leaving Bangladesh in danger of “beating” their worst total of 62 all out! Mahmudullah and Rahim put together some sort of partnership before the latter was caught at midwicket off a full half-volley from Finn. Mahmudullah was also dismissed by Finn, caught behind from a short delivery, and Finn secured back-to-back five-wicket hauls having Shafiul caught by Strauss at slip. Swann completed the match by having Razzak caught by Morgan, and England had recorded a convincing victory.
Everyone expected England to win the series comfortably, and this they did, beating Bangladesh with two days to spare, capturing twenty wickets in two crazy sessions; ten in the evening session on day two, and ten more in the afternoon session on day three after the morning session was rained off. For England’s batsmen this was a difficult series; if they scored well it was “only” against minnows Bangladesh, but if they were dismissed cheaply it could put their position in jeopardy. Trott and Bell were the only England batsmen to score centuries in the series, but all will hope to play better against Pakistan. It is likely that Collingwood will replace Morgan who failed to register a significant score, and Broad will return at the expense of Bresnan/Shahzad. Although England bowled well at Old Trafford, it is important to recognise that the conditions favoured England on the third day. On the second day however, there should be some cause for concern. Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes shared a partnership of 126 and made England’s bowling look very ordinary. Tamim’s aggressive approach clearly put the bowlers under pressure and they struggled to deal with him. Both Finn and Shahzad look good prospects for England, and they will hope to continue their form for their counties. England maintained their one hundred percent Test record against Bangladesh in this series, James Anderson appears to be returning to full fitness and England have plenty of strength in depth in what is a developing Test squad. England now face a series of one-day internationals against Scotland, Australia and Bangladesh, before the next Test series against Pakistan begins on 29 July.