Hussain's footwork overwhelms Bangladesh


Bangladesh 232-8 England 236-2
England win by eight wkts

Bangladesh 232-8 England 236-2 England win by eight wkts

The drought in this part of Africa goes on but for Nasser Hussain the most arid period of his career appears to be at an end. Coming in at No 3, the England captain blitzed the Bangladesh bowlers to score a barnstorming 95, his highest score for his country in one-day internationals.

Hussain's innings, which included five sixes and nine fours, was his most significant since the Boxing Day Test in Durban and it enabled England, chasing 233, to romp home with nearly seven overs to spare.

Afterwards, Hussain, who shared a 174-run partnership in 35 overs with Alec Stewart, said that he was pleased to get some runs. "After the summer I had, I was determined to get a hundred. But if it was disappointing to fall short, I'd take 95 every time, no matter who we were playing.

"Because the ball moves about more, anyone can have a bad summer in England. Mark Waugh struggled before, so has Mohammad Azharuddin, so one poor season doesn't make you a bad player. I'll keep working. In the context of our winter, with tours to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, runs against Bangladesh is really nothing so far."

On a pitch affording bowlers little room for error, Bangladesh's pop-gun attack found dot balls at a premium. Indeed, so good was the surface and so modest the bowling that it was difficult to tell how well Hussain actually played. Taking 12 balls to get off the mark, which he did with a square drive for four off Mushfiq-ur-Rehman, he hit, rather than batted, his way to a big score.

By contrast, Stewart struck the ball with sublime certainty. A natural timer, he even introduced a few uncharacteristic clouts over midwicket for six, no doubt to improve his street cred with those who feel he is obsessed with playing things by the book.

Since July, Stewart's one-day scores for England have been 74 not out, 101, 100 not out and 97. Add to that yesterday's unbeaten 87 and the 37-year old is in the form of his career.

Stewart's dominance until the half-way point in the innings won him the man of the match. After that Hussain's cudgel took the lead role, taking his opposite number Naim-ur-Rehman's hopeful off-breaks apart. Rehman also set some bizarre fields and at one stage he had three men saving one behind square on the off-side to the left-arm spinner Enam-ul-Hoque, who seemed intent on firing it outside leg stump.

With his feet moving after a summer apparently spent in lead boots (unusual for a man whose sister is a leading ballerina), the ball found the middle of Hussain's bat and, in doing so, kept ending up in the sparse crowd.

Mind you, at this altitude (Nairobi is roughly 5,800 feet above sea level) Tiger Woods could probably drive the ball 500 yards and Bangladesh's bowlers could do little except shrug at the carnage.

Considering England play South Africa next on Tuesday, one shudders to think where Lance Klusener's mighty bat could deposit the ball.

As the new boys to Test cricket, the unfamiliar names of the Bangladesh players sound like something out of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. But if a score of 232 was a decent effort against England's attack, the opening over by Hasib-ul-Hossain, which cost 17 runs, meant there was almost no chance of them nicking this game.

The hapless Hossain bowled six no-balls and a wide, all called by the Australian umpire Darrell Hair. In a gaffe worthy of Basil Fawlty, the controversial Hair, who became famous when he persistently called Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing five years ago, was due to stand in Sri Lanka's quarter-final match against Pakistan here on Sunday.

Considering that the International Cricket Council has cleared Muralitharan's action, the insensitivity of the move is astounding. Sensing a row, the ICC hastily released a press statement putting the oversight down to an "administrative error" which, when translated, means that instead of one of the bigwigs getting a bollocking, Dolly from the typing pool will get one instead.

Like all fledgling international sides, Bangladesh's batting is far stronger than their bowling and after weathering an early blitz from Darren Gough and Andy Caddick, most did not look out of their depth. In particular, the opener Javed Omer played well after retiring hurt early on when a lifter from Caddick struck his glove. Returning at the fall of the third wicket he top-scored with 63.

With Ashley Giles still incapacitated due to his calf injury, England's spin option was Graeme Hick, who conceded 35 runs from seven overs. At the moment the pace and bounce has meant spinners are not crucial to the mix, though as the tournament and the pitches wear on, they could be.

To cover themselves, England have called up Essex's Paul Grayson as a replacement. It is an interesting choice, and the selectors clearly feel that his left-arm darts will be more effective than Robert Croft's off-spinners on what has so far proved to be an extremely fast-scoring ground.

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