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Two matches, two wins and two dominant performances. England’s T20 World Cup campaign continued at a devastating pace as they beat Bangladesh by eight wickets, with 35 balls to spare, to solidify their position at the top of Group 1 with four points and a handsome net run rate of 3.614.
In an all-round team performance, it was Jason Roy who emerged with the most credit, striking a swift 61 that broke the back of England’s chase of a lacklustre target of 125, helping the team to within 13 runs of victory before he fell. It was a fitting celebration of the Surrey batter’s 50th T20i cap – clean strikes right through this seventh half-century in the format and second at an ICC event.
There is a strong argument to be made – and typical English worry to hold – that England have not been challenged yet. That holds credence when you consider the two teams they have beaten – West Indies and now Bangladesh – have lost their first two matches in this stage. But much of what England have done right – their bowling in different phases, immaculate fielding and the manner of this chase – suggests they’ve got something to trouble every side at this tournament. Anyone can get it.
Remarkably, this was the first meeting between the two teams in a Twenty20, although it was never going to be a case of working each other out in play. The headline acts on both sides are known the world over, and with both already well into their campaigns – Bangladesh also played three matches in the preliminary qualifying round – hands have been shown.
There was only one alteration between the two: 20-year-old left arm quick Shoriful Islam replacing Mohammad Saifuddin, who went at over 12 an over in Sunday’s defeat to Sri Lanka. With the start at 2pm local time in Abu Dhabi meaning dew would not come into play and skew this towards the chasing side, Mahmudullah had no qualms about batting first after winning the toss.
England were always going to make them work hard for a competitive target. Hustling out the West Indies for 55 was always going to be a one-off, but they were able to repeat their early dominance with the top three Bangladeshis removed in the first six overs for just 27 runs. That control was maintained throughout as England totted up 52 dot balls.
Moeen Ali was again key, accounting for openers Liton Das and Mohammad Naim in successive deliveries, while Chris Woakes completed the Brummie stranglehold, conceding just nine from his three Power Play overs. His scalp was arguably the most important: Shakib Al Hasan, back to No 1 in the all-round rankings, flailing a short ball to Adil Rashid who took a brilliant tumbling catch inside the ring at fine leg.
Mushfiqur Rahim (29) offered rebuttals of sort, whether hitting Moeen down the ground or ramping Tymal Mills over wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. But it wasn’t enough for England to veer from their plans. Rahim’s attempt at a switch-hit gave Liam Livingstone his first dismissal of the tournament (LBW on review). The batting all-rounder’s second wicket – Mahmudullah scuffing a heave to Woakes at backward point – came after the Bangladesh captain had inadvertently run out teammate Afif Hossain off the back of a misfield from Mills.
It was only in the 19th over that England found themselves on the back foot, as Nasun Ahmed struck two sixes and a four as Rashid was taken for 17 from his final over. Normal service resumed in the last over as Mills demonstrated why he is one of the world’s best at the death, conceding just four runs and taking two with the last two deliveries to finish with figures of three for 27.
England’s first port of call was to win the Power Play, which they did by reaching 50 for the loss of Jos Buttler, striking half as many boundaries in this period as the 12 Bangladesh managed in their entire innings. When Roy danced down the pitch to lift Mahedi Hasan just over the rope at long off, England had equalled their opponent’s total of two sixes midway through the seventh over.
Roy maintained his tempo, reaching his half-century with a flat six down the ground off his 33rd delivery. The strike off Nasun Ahmed’s bowling, his seventh boundary, reaffirmed his improvements against left-arm spin, and the turning ball in general. There was a feeling these pitches might not suit his hard hands, but there was a subtlety in the right-hander’s approach that complemented rather than hindered his ball striking. The best example came in the following over, when he pulled out an absurd paddle-hook shot to a short delivery from Shoriful that flew over the wicketkeeper for six.
A more orthodox ramp off the same bowler brought about his end when he was caught at third man by Ahmed for 61 off 38, which brought Jonny Bairstow to the crease with just 13 needed from 43 deliveries. Bairstow (eight not out) would strike the winning boundary through midwicket, with Dawid Malan unbeaten at the non-striker’s end on 28 from 25.