What a pity this match couldn’t have been played to a conclusion today. There’s no criticism of why not, for night was falling and it was the natural end of play anyway, but for the ever growing crowd, thrilled at the prospect of a first victory against a major nation (the ones over the West Indies just don’t really count) it was an anticlimactic end to a thrilling day.
33 runs or 2 wickets, and with a new ball just around the corner. So few runs means that the new ball is a double edged sword, for even a single expensive over can be the difference between winning and losing, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if it weren’t taken immediately. It’s hard therefore to define a favourite at this stage, particularly when Sabbir Rahman is still in. On debut he has been nerveless, playing positively and selectively attacking. Home hopes would be greater if the tail were more competent than they are, Taijul Islam has not looked secure, although his policy of trying to hit is surely the right one in the circumstances.
It is England’s seamers who are clearly the most trusted to win the game. Cook has betrayed a lack of belief in his spinners on many an occasion, and while his captaincy has undoubtedly improved over the last couple of years, his field placings for Moeen and especially Adil Rashid suggest his thinking is in terms of ensuring they don’t go for too many runs rather than backing them to take wickets. Having half the team on the boundary neither gives confidence to the bowlers nor maximises their chances to getting anyone out when they bowl a good ball.
The very best matches see saw between the sides, and make no mistake this has been a thrilling game, with the run chase mirroring the Test in microcosm. After a bright start, England surely had the game almost won when Moeen snared Shakib, but a fine partnership of 87 between Mushfiqur and Sabbir put Bangladesh in charge. 59 needed, five wickets in hand.
Stuart Broad has had a quiet match, providing control but not too much threat, but he’s not world class bowler these days, and two quick wickets swung it back towards England.
Bangladesh are close, but it’s going to need a little luck to get over the line. England supporters may want their team to win, but even the most loyal must have a sneaking hope that Bangladesh can do it. What a day that would be.
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