Cook goes off boil in face of Bangladesh onslaught

Tamim's flashing blade runs England ragged as ultra-defensive captain proves he's an apprentice
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The Independent Online

Sooner or later, all captains find that life is tough. Alastair Cook must have hoped and probably assumed that it might not happen quite as early as his second Test against the weakest opposition possible. But he should consider it good practice. If Bangladesh, of all sides, can run his bowlers almost ragged on a flat pitch at Mirpur, imagine for example what Australia might be equipped to do to an England side led by Cook at Brisbane in the 2014-15 Ashes.

To that extent, the way Bangladesh rattled along yesterday – with Cook's only obvious response a clap of the hands and the positioning of five men round the boundary – was all part of the learning curve for an apprentice leader. Cook has acquitted himself virtuously in the past few weeks: he has been patient, diplomatic, cautious and not prepared to reveal much about his inner thoughts or the team he intends to pick.

It was always certain to be fascinating – perhaps the most fascinating aspect of an otherwise predictable sequence of events – to see what would happen if Bangladesh ever seized the initiative. They did so yesterday when approaching their first innings in the Second Test as though Indian Premier League talent scouts were in the ground. If they were present, they were virtually alone for the first three hours – save for the usual hardcore of die-hard England followers – and they were treated to some fearless strokeplay.

Cook found that there were no easy answers, no cute tactical ploys and the fact that he dropped three catches during the day provided reasonable testimony for those convinced that the cares of captaincy affect everybody in some way. England might have had two other catches; other sides might have inflicted greater punishment as a result of such shortcomings.

By the 15th over, Bangladesh had raced to 100, the ball flying from the flashing blade of Tamim Iqbal, a jazzed-up version of Chris Gayle. If things slowed a little thereafter, the scoring rate remained healthy throughout the first day. Their score of 330 for 8 was insufficient given the paucity of their bowling resources. Adequacy in their case has to be double the par score on any surface.

But they demonstrated some of the resolve evident in the latter stages of the First Test in Chittagong, and in Tamim they have a bobby dazzler. It was his 21st birthday yesterday and if he celebrated the milestone in style with a ferocious 85 from 71 balls, he thoroughly deserved to take it further by becoming the first man for 44 years to score a hundred before lunch on the first day of a Test. Majid Khan was the last and on this showing Tamim may well be the next.

He hangs about for no man. He was, he said, feeling good when he went to the crease yesterday and doubtless when England's early bowling proved erratic he felt better still. Such heavy punishment did he inflict on the new ball that Cook felt he had no option but to introduce the second best bowler in the world as early as the eighth over. Graeme Swann, elevated to such lofty status in the latest ICC rankings after his 10-wicket match haul in Chittagong, was treated disdainfully. Tamim struck 20 runs off his third over, three successive fours, hit with increasing power, and then a straight six.

With a century beckoning he suddenly changed tempo, deterred from continued smiting by the jaw-droppingly defensive fields. England's bowling unit have talked much self-congratulatory tosh about their efforts this winter and now here they were reduced to trying to stop the torrent of runs on the first morning of a Test match with the oldest available method.

Tamim's change of pace perhaps induced uncertainty and he shortly became James Tredwell's first Test wicket. Tredwell's inclusion in the side at least indicated that England are not invariably over-cautious in their approach.

Tredwell should have played in Chittagong but was overlooked because of the ill-conceived desire to field six batsmen and four bowlers. Cricketing sense prevailed this time and Tredwell was rewarded with his first Test wicket in his fourth over when Tamim got in a tangle with a sweep and looped a catch which was taken by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Tamim had been dropped twice, on 11 when his edged but brutal drive flew high and powerfully through Paul Collingwood's outstretched hands at slip and then on 35 when Cook put down a miscued drive at mid-on which he parried and could not quite grasp at the second attempt.

With Tamim gone, Bangladesh were never quite so effective or thrilling again. But they made England work hard. Mahmudullah again composed a well-ordered half-century, the captain Shakib-al-Hasan was sleek in compiling 49, unfurling some adroit footwork. Both were reprieved by Cook, at short leg and silly point respectively, both off Tredwell's bowling.

Tredwell got his second wicket by piercing Shakib's sweep but he might have had three more. Mushfiqur Rahim was also dropped off him when Prior failed to move quickly enough (and he would have had to be the fastest draw in the east) to a thick edge.

Bangladesh were hampered yet again by their inability to see it through. They looked as though they wanted to stick around but then when it seemed as though they meant serious business, off they tootled through something feckless, like serial womanisers who promise fidelity only to veer once more off the straight and narrow. England should be grateful for their errant ways.

Mirpur scoreboard

Bangladesh won toss; day one

Bangladesh

Tamim Iqbal c Prior b Tredwell (71 balls, 93 min, 13 fours, 1 six) 85

Imrul Kayes c Finn b Broad (26 balls, 37 min, 2 fours)12

Junaid Siddique lbw b Swann (76 balls, 138 min, 7 fours)39

Jahurul Islam lbw b Swann (6 balls, 5 min)0

Mahmudullah c Collingwood b Finn (106 balls, 123 min, 9 fours)59

*Shakib-al-Hasan lbw b Tredwell (79 balls, 97 min, 10 fours)49

†Mushfiqur Rahim c Prior b Bresnan (83 balls, 96 min, 3 fours, 1 six)30

Naeem Islam not out (91 balls, 4 fours)33

Abdur Razzak lbw b Swann (13 balls, 20 min)3

Shafiul Islam not out (14 balls, 1 four)8

Extras (b1 lb10 nb1)12

Total (8 wkts, 94 overs)330

Fall: 1-53 (Imrul Kayes), 2-119 (Tamim Iqbal), 3-122 (Jahurul Islam), 4-167 (Junaid Siddique), 5-226 (Mahmudullah), 6-254 (Shakib Al Hasan), 7-301 (Mushfiqur Rahim), 8-314 (Abdur Razzak).

To bat: Rubel Hossain.

Bowling: S C J Broad 14-4-48-1, T T Bresnan 13-4-40-1, G P Swann 30-4-94-3, S T Finn 7-2-44-1 (nb1), J C Tredwell 29-5-85-2, P D Collingwood 1-0-8-0.

England: *A N Cook, I J L Trott, K P Pietersen, P D Collingwood, I R Bell, †M J Prior, T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J C Tredwell, S T Finn.

Umpires: A L Hill (NZ) and R J Tucker (Aus).

Third umpire: Enamul Haque.

Match referee: J J Crowe (NZ).

First Test (Chittagong): England won by 181 runs.

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