Bangladesh are back to the bad old days after latest false dawn
Bangladesh have won two international cricket matches in England. The first match was fixed and the second happened after their opponents were thrown into disarray because one of their team turned up as drunk as a lord.
It will take a combination of both for Bangladesh to extend their number of wins in the NatWest Series which begins in Nottingham today and since neither is likely to happen a whitewash is all but certain. If England do not win all three matches, as they have done in the previous three series between the sides, then their progress can be deemed to have been impeded at best.
Of course, the home side's captain, Andrew Strauss, made all the appropriate noises yesterday about not expecting to win. "They're a dangerous side, they all play shots, and Tamim Iqbal in particular is very dangerous. In Bangladesh [in March] we had to labour to win the one-day series and we're going to have to work hard and make sure we don't give them any inroads into the game. I don't think we're a good enough team just to turn up and win."
All of which may be so but took little cognisance of the fact that Bangladesh have become plain dreadful once more. Every time that these tourists seem to be starting to demonstrate that they really have made it this time, they muck things up.
They have now lost their last 13 one-day internationals, their last victories being against Zimbabwe and West Indies' second XI. In the recent Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, in conditions that were not entirely alien to them, they were defeated by margins of six wickets, 126 runs and 139 runs.
On returning to England to resume their tour having already played two Test matches – another oddity of a risibly scheduled season – they have sacked their captain, Shakib al-Hasan, and replaced him with the veteran fast bowler Mashrafe bin Mortaza. His form since returning from injury has hardly been of the vintage variety – his 18.4 overs in their three Asia games yielded two wickets at a cost of 154 runs.
The false dawns for Bangladesh have been legion. Two of them rose in England. The first was in the 1999 World Cup when to national rejoicing they beat Pakistan at Northampton by 62 runs. The result, which was called in evidence when they were granted Test status the following year, was later found to have been "artificially engineered". Pakistan had already qualified.
Then in 2005, on a smashing day in Cardiff, Bangladesh stunned Australia with a five-wicket victory in which Mohammad Ashraful made a glorious hundred. If it was an authentic victory, Australia contributed to their own downfall when they had to omit Andrew Symonds barely an hour before the match because he had been out on the town until just before the team left for the ground.
Precious little that has happened since has suggested sustained improvement. Tamim does offer them some cause for optimism. He stood out in the Asia Cup and scored a brutally dashing hundred against England in Dhaka earlier this year. It is also true that Bangladesh would have secured their first victory against England in any form of the game in the second match of that series had Eoin Morgan not scored a blazingly obdurate century to see the tourists home by two wickets.
England will be forced to make changes to their team after selecting the same XI throughout the series in the 3-2 victory against Australia. Ian Bell will slot in to the number three place instead of Kevin Pietersen, who has a thigh strain, and may well score more runs.
James Tredwell will be given a run out in place of the resting Graeme Swann and at some point in the three matches being played, mercifully, over five days, Ajmal Shahzad and Jonathan Trott may get a game.
The only other match between the sides at Trent Bridge was in 2005 – three days after Bangladesh had seen off the Aussies – when England won by 168 runs with Paul Collingwood producing the best all-round performance by anybody in one-day internationals by scoring 112 and taking 6 for 31. Only if he were to repeat the feat or Bangladesh were to win tonight would the interest levels rise.
Trent Bridge details
Probable England team AJ Strauss (capt), C Kieswetter, IR Bell, PD Collingwood, EJG Morgan, LJ Wright, TT Bresnan, SCJ Broad, JC Tredwell, A Shahzad, JM Anderson.
Probable Bangladesh team Mashrafe bin Mortaza (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al-Hasan (vc), Mahmudullah, Shafiul Islam, Abdur Razzaq, Rubel Hossain, Syed Rasal.
Pitch report Has produced plenty of Twenty20 runs this season, but Championship scores have been on low side.
Weather Warm and sunny. Max: 20C
TV Sky Sports 1, 2-10.30pm. Highlights: Five, 11.40pm-12.40am
Umpires N Llong, A Rauf (Pak)
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