England lost to Bangladesh at cricket yesterday. Sooner or later it was bound to happen, though the chances of it being in the second match of the NatWest Series in Bristol had seemed as remote as the Government reducing the deficit.
It was their first victory against England after 20 successive defeats in all matches between the sides, and their first win of any kind against any opposition in 24 matches. It was also thoroughly deserved.
Bangladesh won by five runs as England failed somewhat dismally to chase a paltry target of 237 to win. The defeat came amid bizarre circumstances when Ian Bell was forced to limp out to bat with a broken bone in his left foot, suffered during Bangladesh's innings.
He did not have to face a ball as Jonathan Trott, who had faced 130 of them, was last man out for 94 with three balls left of an increasingly tense match. Little or no blame should be attached to Trott, who might have found an extra gear as the match wore on but who watched powerlessly as too many of his colleagues failed to engage any gear at all.
With hundreds of walk-ups, the win was witnessed by all but a full house, who presumably could hardly believe their luck in witnessing such a historic contest. The England and Wales Cricket Board are geniuses of fixture scheduling after all.
Bangladesh consisted only of heroes, with five bowlers taking two wickets each. Rubel Hossain made crucial breakthroughs, Shafiul Islam was parsimonious when it mattered, the erstwhile captain Shakib Al Hasan induced injudicious strokes, Mashrafe Mortaza returned at the death to make vital incisions. The spinners were particularly significant.
England's highest partnership on a slow but largely blameless pitch was 49 for the first wicket. After that they were always cobbling things together. And they cobbled shoddily. "Our fielding was pretty sub-standard and we lost too many early wickets," said the captain, Andrew Strauss. "When you're chasing 237, if you don't get bowled out you win the game. Was it good bowling or was our batting sub-standard?" It was a bit of both. Bangladesh defended like tigers, England either froze or were complacent.
For all the world, it seemed as though Bangladesh's total of 236 for 7 was insufficient to pose a realistic challenge. Any rational judge of pitch, conditions and relative merits of the teams presumed it to be at least 40 runs short.
England, who made two changes to the team that won the first match of the series, bowled tolerably well; Bangladesh batted patiently but inadequately. Only the third-wicket partnership of 83 between Imrul Kayes and Jahurul Islam, in his second match, detained England for long.
There were always pockets of resistance after they were parted in the 30th over but the innings plodded along. Kayes made his fourth one-day fifty but after facing 116 balls for 76 he had to stay to the close. He was undone by a slower ball from the admirable Ajmal Shahzad whose 3 for 41 in his third match were his best figures.
England were in trouble almost as soon as Strauss and Craig Kieswetter, both caught behind, were parted. Paul Collingwood, fortunate to survive a first-ball appeal for a catch behind, was lbw off an inside edge, fortune quickly being evened out. Eoin Morgan, who has often extricated England from the mire recently, was beaten by one that turned from Abdur Razzak and was more legitimately leg before.
Mike Yardy played a horrible shot to a straight ball from Shakib, matched only by Ajmal Shahzad's grotesque swish, this pair of dismissals bracketing Luke Wright's booming edged drive which was held at slip at the second attempt. It all represented smart, convincing cricket from Bangladesh.
Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson stayed awhile but the pressure got to them. Bell hobbled out wearing a surgical boot, the last throw of the dice with 10 wanted off the final over. Trott had surveyed this wreckage of an innings from the other end, eschewing risk and pretty much ignoring strokes until the penultimate over. But it was all too much for him at the last when he wafted at a wide one and was caught behind. Bangladesh had made history.
Bell out for six weeks
Ian Bell, who has emerged as a key part of England's strategy to retain the Ashes, is expected to miss the Test series against Pakistan, writes Stephen Brenkley. He fractured a bone in his left foot yesterday in Bristol as he tried to take a catch high up at square-leg. Such injuries take an average of six weeks to heal, according to the England medical staff. That time scale means Bell might be fit in time for the last Test against Pakistan but he would hardly be match-honed. England will still desperately want him, possibly at No 3, this winter.
England won toss
Tamim Iqbal c Kieswetter b Shahzad 18/0/3/23
Imrul Kayes c Collingwood b Shahzad 76/0/4/111
Junaid Siddique c Kieswetter b Broad 21/0/4/23
†Jahurul Islam c Kieswetter b Shahzad 40/1/1/53
Shakib Al Hasan b Collingwood 1/0/0/3
Mohammad Ashraful run out 14/0/1/29
Mahmudullah not out 24/0/0/34
*Mashrafe Mortaza run out 22/1/2/25
Abdur Razzak not out 1/0/0/2
Extras (lb 4, w 12, nb 3) 19
Total (for 7 wkts, 50 overs) 236
Fall 1-19 (Tamim Iqbal), 2-65 (Junaid Siddique), 3-148 (Jahurul Islam), 4-149 (Shakib Al Hassan), 5-174 (Mohammad Ashraful), 6-196 (Imrul Kayes), 7-233 (Mashrafe Mortaza).
Did not bat Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam.
Bowling J M Anderson 9-0-46-0, A Shahzad 10-0-41-3, S C J Broad 10-0-60-1, L J Wright 6-0-30-0, M H Yardy 10-0-39-0, P D Collingwood 5-0-16-1.
*A J Strauss c Jahurul Islam b Rubel Hossain 33/1/4/36
†C Kieswetter c Jahurul Islam b Rubel Hossain 20/1/2/17
I J L Trott c Jahurul Islam b Shafiul Islam/94/0/8/130
P D Collingwood lbw b Abdur Razzak 10/1/0/24
E J G Morgan lbw b Abdur Razzak 1/0/0/3
M H Yardy b Shakib Al Hasan 10/0/0/24
L J Wright c Junaid Siddique b Shafiul Islam 15/1/0/22
A Shahzad b Shakib Al Hasan 5/0/0/9
S C J Broad c Shakib Al Hasan b Mashrafe Mortaza 21/1/1/25
J M Anderson c and b Mashrafe Mortaza 2/0/0/7
I R Bell not out 0/0/0/0
Extras (lb 7, w 13) 20
Total (49.3 overs) 231
Fall: 1-49 (Strauss), 2-58 (Kieswetter), 3-86 (Collingwood), 4-90 (Morgan), 5-115 (Yardy), 6-146 (Wright), 7-166 (Shahzad), 8-209 (Broad), 9-227 (Anderson), 10-231 (Trott).
Bowling Mashrafe Mortaza 10-0-42-2, Abdur Razzak 10-0-43-2, Shafiul Islam 9.3-3-38-2, Rubel Hossain 9-0-52-2, Shakib Al Hasan 10-0-40-2, Mohammad Ashraful 1-0-9-0.
Umpires Asad Rauf (Pak) and R K Illingworth (Eng).
TV Umpire R A Kettleborough.
Match referee J Srinath (Ind).
Bangladesh win by 5 runs. Three-match series tied 1-1.