New Delhi: Bangladesh went into their third World Cup game against hosts England in reasonably high spirits, considering their recent results and their World Cup history against the English. They had beaten England in the 2015 and 2011 editions of this tournament. And even though they knew this wasn’t the same England they were going to face in Cardiff on Saturday, they had reasons to be hopeful.
Indeed, this is not the same England. Riding on a mammoth batting performance, the hosts comfortably swept Bangladesh aside and also brushed off a few questions that hung around their World Cup campaign after the loss against Pakistan. Led from the top by Jason Roy, who scored an explosive 153 off 121, England won by 106 runs to get their World Cup campaign back running on full steam. A combative ton from Shakib Al Hasan in the chase peaked Bangladeshi hopes, but in the end, the target — 387, the top score this World Cup — proved to be too much.
Here are the talking points from the game:
England's batting might
The England squad has gone through some changes since Bangladesh dumped them out of 2015 World Cup. Over the last year or so, England have become an ODI behemoth. With a batting lineup full of match-winners who can turn the game around on sheer force of will, England entered the World Cup as overwhelming favourites. The loss against Pakistan was an early check, but the response against Bangladesh restores normal order of things. England were mighty with the bat in Cardiff, with openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow laying the foundation for the top score this tournament. Bairstow departed on 51 after a 128-run stand with Roy. Joe Root did not last long, but Jos Buttler provided company to Roy, hitting a valuable 64 off 44. But it was Roy's 153 off 121 that lead the charge. Hitting 14 fours and five sixes on the way, Roy set things up for an emphatic total. After his departure, it did look like England might trail off and end up with fewer runs than expected, but late cameos from Liam Plunkett and Chis Woakes, who together put up 45 runs in 17 balls toward the end, powered England to 386, their seventh consecutive 300 plus score.
It was always a target too big. Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said after the game that 320, or 330 would have been a different chase. Eventually, England won comfortably, bowling out Bangladesh for 280 and thus recording a win against them in the World Cup after 12 years.
Bangladesh's bowling choice
Bangladesh opened their bowling with Shakib, following in on the trend of handing the new ball to spinner against England openers. South Africa and Pakistan tried it with wristspinners to some success, but Shakib failed to trouble Roy and Bairstow.
Shakib bowled seven overs in the first 15 with little success. On the other end, Bangladesh captain Mortaza did not offer much sting. The pitch had a bit of green on it and had been under covers for the past two days. A strike pacer of mettle would have been itching to bowl under these conditions. But, Bangladesh lack one.
Shakib had an underwhelming day with the ball, but excelled with the bat yet again. His 121 off 119 former the bulk of Bangladesh's reply and also made him the top run-getter this World Cup. He has now scored four fifties and a century in his last six innings.
Early last year, Shakib was promoted to batting at number 3 based on his request and he has since made the position his own, averaging 52.76 in 19 innings since the beginning of 2018. His three World Cup scores read 75, 64 and 121. He also put a 106-run third-wicket stand with Mushfiqur Rahim, raising Bangladesh's hopes for a brief period of time. But besides him and Mushfiqur, no one really got going.
This is also a problem Bangladesh need to address this World Cup. Several of their players have not hit their form in the tournament which has led to the team becoming increasingly over-reliant on Shakib's efforts with the bat.
England's pacers come good
Jofra Archer and Mark Wood are two of the fastest bowlers this World Cup and they struck hard at Bangladeshi batters on Saturday. Both Archer and Wood broke the fastest ball barrier for this World Cup in the game and also cleaned up openers Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar early. On a day Woakes was failed to fire, Archer picked up three wickets while giving away only 29 in his 8.5 overs. Wood posted figures of 2/52, dismissing Tamim and Mahmadullah.
The pick of the lot, however, was Ben Stokes, who picked up three, including the crucial wicket of Shakib, and gave away only 23 runs in his 6 overs.
England are known for their fearsome batting lineup that runs deep, but their bowling has been nothing to write home about. Archer's pick for the World Cup added some much needed firepower. If England's seamers can stretch this display out for the run of the tournament, they will add backup to their batting and their claim to the cup will be stronger.