England’s All-round Might Stamps Them With Tournament Favourites Tag

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - England's all-round might stamps them with tournament favourites tag. England were as clinical with the ball in this match as they were against the West Indies in their opening match.

England’s All-round Might Stamps Them With Tournament Favourites TagEngland were as clinical with the ball in this match as they were against the West Indies in their opening match.

It was time to try and exert some pressure for Bangladesh. Mehedi Hasan was bowling the seventh over of England's chase, the first outside the Powerplay. In the previous over, Bangladesh had just dismissed Jos Buttler. A few dots to keep the pressure on, another quick wicket to expose England's middle order, and who knows what might have happened?

From the second ball of that seventh over, Dawid Malan tentatively pushed a delivery back down the pitch which by rights should have been a dot ball. Instead, Mahedi somehow let the ball squirm through his grasp, allowing Malan to run through for a leisurely single. The next two balls? Jason Roy dispatched them for a six and a four. An opportunity to build some pressure had, by a combination of Bangladesh's own scrappiness and the opposition's ruthlessness, turned into an over which consolidated England's dominance. Those three balls rather summed up this match.

England were as clinical with the ball in this match as they were against the West Indies in their opening match and better with the bat, thanks to a composed but brutal half-century from Roy. Their tactics in the field worked once again while the preparation they had done in the build-up to the game on facing Bangladesh's spinners clearly worked well as England's batters took 71 runs from a combined eight overs of spin for the loss of just one wicket. The eight-wicket victory, secured with 5.5 overs remaining, continued their convincing start to this tournament.

The power and skill of England's batting line-up is clearly the strongest aspect of their T20 play but the foundation of their two victories in this tournament so far has been their bowling attack. As they did in the opening match, England took early Powerplay wickets which hobbled Bangladesh's innings before it had even begun and then kept the pressure on throughout the middle overs with regular wickets. The bowling was disciplined and smart while the fielding was, a few fumbles aside, very good. Only once, in a 19th over which cost 17 runs, did Bangladesh escape England's shackles.

The tone was set almost immediately for England. Chris Woakes bowled a superb three over new-ball spell, hitting a straight, hard length that proved impossible for the Bangladeshi batters to get away. It was the sort of spell that Woakes has bowled so many times in ODI cricket, where he is the leader of England's attack. In 50-over cricket, he rarely tries too many variations with the new ball and he didn't do that here either.

In all, Woakes bowled 14 dots and picked up the key wicket of Shakib Al Hasan. “His line and length has been perfect from ball one,” Roy said after the game on Wednesday (October 27). “On these sort of pitches, that sort of line, that sort of length, it's incredibly hard to get away as an opening batter.” Woakes' recall to the T20 side after a long absence appears to have been an inspired call.

Moeen Ali reprised his new ball role from game one too and was kept on for three overs during the Powerplay despite his first over conceding ten runs. He picked up two wickets in his second over, however, as Liton Das and Naim Sheikh tried, and failed, to take him on. Das was caught at deep square leg off a top-edged sweep while Naim limply flopped a ball to mid-off. The approach from Bangladesh was the correct one – Moeen had to be put under pressure if they were going to take advantage of the first six overs – but their execution was horribly off.

It was the theme of their day. Bangladesh rely to an unhealthy extent on the batting of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. The rest of the order lacks power and aggression, particularly without Tamim Iqbal at the top of the order. As much as the Bangladesh batsmen tried to find the boundary under the scorching Abu Dhabi sun, all they could manage instead was a blaze of play and misses, inside edges and mishits. In between, there were too many tentative prods or flaps at the ball. As England's seamers hit the pitch hard, Bangladesh's batters hardly played a pull or cut shot in anger. Instead, they tried to run most deliveries down to third man for a single.

Against England's trio of spinners, it was noticeable how a number of Bangladesh batsmen often got stuck with their front foot planted down the pitch and in front of off-stump. That meant they were in no real position to free their arms or to get their front leg out of the way to hit the ball hard. Instead, from that forward press position, all they could do was nudge and nurdle. On the spin-friendly pitches at home, where batting is a lottery, that is a sensible method. On good pitches such as this one, prodding and poking will get a team nowhere fast.

Some of the Bangladesh struggles were undoubtedly down to the quality of England's bowling. They rarely drifted too full – the two times Moeen did that in the opening over, he was hit for boundaries by Das – or too wide. A feature of the fast-bowling was the back of a length mode of attack while the spinners targeted the stumps. On this surface, that made run-scoring difficult. But even so, a total of ten boundaries and just two sixes, both of which came in the 19th over off Adil Rashid and were scored by the number nine Nasum Ahmed, is a paltry total by any standards.

By contrast, in 14.1 overs of batting England scored ten boundaries and four sixes, neatly encapsulating the difference in approach and execution between the two sides.

Not that it is easy to simply turn up and blaze the ball to all parts. Two years ago, Roy was skittish and unsure when starting against spin. He always appeared in a battle with himself, unsure whether to slog wildly or defend passively. It was one or the other and there was little balance to his game. By his own admission that is an area he has worked since. On this tour, he has spent lots of time in the nets facing the left-arm spin of Liam Dawson, one of the reserve players.

Roy is a different player against slow bowling now, clearer in his method and calmer at the crease. He knows where he wants to score and has more shots with which to do that. Roy used to favour the slog sweep or club down the ground against spin. Now he can play through or over the off-side with more conviction, narrowing down the margin of error for spinners, and is more nimble on his feet, able to rock back quicker to anything slightly short. He scored two boundaries from cut shots today in that manner.

How Bangladesh wish they had a player like Roy in their ranks. Their lack of power hitters was badly exposed and this defeat leaves them with hardly any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Two years ago, in the 50-over World Cup in England, Bangladesh played with vibrancy and aggression that made them one of the teams of the tournament. This is a different format, to be sure, but that same spark, that same attacking intent, that same energy is missing from this team.

As they proved today, England have those characteristics in spades with both bat and ball. It is what makes them one of the tournament favourites.

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