England Secure Unconvincing Victory

On Monday England completed an eight wicket win over Bangladesh in the first Test of the English summer, but it was a result that rather flattered the home team. The England squad selection was rather defensive, the team containing six batsmen and just four front-line bowlers; Tim Bresnan in the role of all-rounder at number eight, followed by Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Steven Finn in his first Test on home soil. The bowlers were made to look fairly ordinary by an impressive Bangladesh batting performance in this Test, albeit on a flat wicket.

The match began with Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain, winning the toss and putting England in to bat. Alastair Cook was dismissed cheaply for just 7, before returning captain Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott shared a partnership of 181. Strauss was eventually bowled for 83, and will be disappointed not to have scored a century on his return to the team. Trott however, was playing majestically, driving the ball with consummate ease and grace, reaching a richly deserved ton towards the end of the afternoon session. Both Pietersen and Bell failed to make a decent score, falling for 18 and 17 respectively. Critics will point to Pietersen being dismissed yet again by a left-arm slow bowler in Shakib, but he was playing an overly aggressive shot, and will rue missing out. Eoin Morgan came in at number six and proceeded to play some inventive shots before England closed on 362-4, Trott on 175 with his eyes set on a double century the next day, and Morgan on 40 overnight.

The second day saw a much better bowling performance from Bangladesh and they made early inroads into the England batsmen, dismissing Morgan for 44 and Prior for a scratchy 16, before Trott brought up his maiden Test double century with a clip through midwicket. Bresnan was dismissed for 25 after batting fairly slowly, before Trott’s marathon innings of 226 finally came to an end. Graeme Swann then briefly entertained the crowd, hitting 22 off just 13 balls including two fours and two sixes, but England were soon all out for 505, midway through the afternoon. Shahadat Hossain was the pick of the Bangladeshi bowlers, claiming three of the last four England wickets to fall, finishing with 5-98. However, openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes began the innings with a partnership of 88 that ended only when Tamim was run out for 54. Finn dismissed Kayes for 43, but England’s bowling performance left much to be desired with Bangladesh closing on 172-2.

The third day’s play was heavily interrupted by rain and did not begin until after three o’clock on Saturday afternoon. The crowd did not have to wait long for the first wicket however, as England took full advantage of cloudy, swinging conditions, Finn dismissing Siddique for a well-played 58, and then trapping Ashraful lbw for just 4. Anderson then had Jahurul caught behind for 20, before having captain Shakib caught by Strauss at slip for 25. Finn completed a successful day for England by clean bowling wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim for 16, Bangladesh closing on 237-7.

England continued well on the fourth day, Anderson picking up two more wickets, and Bresnan the last wicket to dismiss Bangladesh for 282, Strauss choosing to enforce the follow-on. It looked to be a decision England might come to regret though, as Tamim proceeded to bat magnificently, smashing a century off just 94 balls to become the first Bangladeshi to score a ton at Lord’s. He was dismissed shortly afterwards by Finn for 103 however, Finn also removing Kayes for 75. Siddique and Jahurul then put on a partnership of exactly 100, before Trott, a part-time medium-pace bowler, picked up his maiden Test wicket, taking a good return catch to remove Jahurul for 46. Anderson and Bresnan picked up a wicket apiece before the close of play, leaving Bangladesh on 328-5, a lead of over one hundred runs going into the final day’s play.

Day five saw Finn pick up the important wickets of Shakib, Siddique and Mushfiqur Rahim in quick succession, putting Bangladesh on the back foot and in the process bringing up his maiden five-wicket haul for England. Bresnan took the last two wickets to dismiss Bangladesh for 382, meaning England needed 160 to win in two sessions. Strauss and Cook set about chasing the target down aggressively, getting to 65-0 after just nine overs. Cook was dismissed lbw for the second time in the innings for 23, continuing his poor form, although HawkEye suggested he had been unlucky. Strauss batted well and at a good rate before he was dismissed in the 80s for the second time in the match, with England just 13 runs shy of victory. Pietersen and Trott however, saw their team through to what was a fairly comfortable victory in the end, but England have a lot of food for thought.

In the next Test starting on Friday, Alastair Cook will be hoping for some runs, as will Ian Bell, as his place may begin to come under threat with Morgan in the side, and Paul Collingwood to return later in the summer. Matt Prior’s batting did not look particularly fluent, although he was unfortunately run out by Trott, whose running between the wickets was the only disappointment in a terrific innings. Steven Finn has impressed pundits and fans alike, registering match figures of 9-187; if he continues his consistent bowling performances for both Middlesex and England he is likely to be selected for this winter’s Ashes series, although Broad and Onions are only temporary omissions. England will be wary of the talent that Bangladesh posses, particularly in their batting. They must formulate a plan to dismiss the dangerous Tamim, and hope that Anderson discovers some rhythm as he continues to find form after his injury. Tim Bresnan has been ruled out of the next Test due to injury, and Ryan Sidebottom has been added to the twelve man squad. Bangladesh will hope to continue their impressive batting performances, but must not set such defensive fields in Test cricket if they hope to take wickets. They will take heart from their performance, but England will be looking to greatly improve on this showing come Friday morning.


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