If everybody thought that England would dominate right throughout the game, like they did in the first two days, it was time to think again. Bangladesh are not the same side like they were five years ago.
Their perseverance and hard work paid off as they could challenge England’s supremacy at home. It was a good sign for Bangladesh and thus test cricket. The last three days was a fitting reply to those critics who felt that minnows like Bangladesh do not deserve to maintain their status as a Test-playing nation.
The third day’s play began with a lot of hope for Bangladesh. At the overnight score of 179/2, Shakib al Hasan’s men would have looked to score above 350 for sure and make England bat again.
However, events didn’t turn out to favour Bangladesh. It was due to some fine bowling by rookie pacer Steven Finn. Finn was criticized a day before, for not bowling to his strengths against a relatively weak Bangladeshi batting line-up.
However, he helped England fight back in the match by picking key wickets of the well-set Imrul Kayes, the dangerous Junaid Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful and the in-form wicketkeeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim.
Day 3 was a rain-hit day and if it wasn’t raining, the duration of play was low due to bad light. Though, it aided England’s bowlers who traditionally rely on swing and seam movement.
Even James Anderson, England’s spearhead fast bowler, wasn’t at his best the day before. But along with Finn, he exploited the conditions on the third day by picking four wickets, which included the important wicket of Shakib al Hasan, the Bangladeshi skipper.
At the end of Day 3, Bangladesh had yet again collapsed, like in the past in Test matches. They were left reeling at 237/7 from a score of 179/2. England proved that they were returning to their best, after a not so convincing bowling performance a day before.
Day 4 promised to be exciting. Bangladesh was wrapped up for 282 in the first session of the day. England had a huge first-innings lead of 223 runs. This made Andrew Strauss impose the follow-on, allowing Bangladesh to bat again. In the second innings, Bangladesh played much better than expected. Tamim Iqbal’s century was the highlight of the day.
It was one of the most memorable knocks Lord’s would have ever seen. And that too by a young Bangladeshi opening batsman. He carried on from his 55 in the first innings to score a 100-ball 103, which included as many as 15 fours and 2 sixes.
Sounds like a one-day knock, isn’t it? But that was the beauty of the innings. Just as how Dilip Vengsarkar played a breathtaking knock in 1986 at the same ground, Tamim Iqbal too defied the English bowlers and was severe on Tim Bresnan, in particular.
That hundred not only put his name on the honours board at Lords, but also assured Bangladesh that they won’t lose by an innings and England would have to chase, which would be tricky given that the weather was unpredictable and the pitch was also going to slow down.
His opening partner, Imrul Kayes also had a good outing the second time around, as he scored his first Test fifty. Both put up a threatening and defying 185-run partnership for the first wicket in just 38.2 overs. However, England struck back at the stroke of tea on Day 4, sending back both the openers to the pavilion, in quick succession.
Junaid Siddique, batting at No.3, made it 2 in 2, by scoring another fifty. The young Jahurul Islam gave good support to Siddique as they put a 100-run partnership for the third wicket. And this is where the turnaround for England actually began.
After some solid resistance by Bangladesh’s batsman, it was time for England to strike. Siddique was stranded at the non-strikers end as wickets of Islam, Ashraful and night watchman Shahadat Hossain fell.
Mohammad Ashraful was in good touch until Anderson bowled a short delivery to which Ashraful played on, and Matt Prior, the wicketkeeper took a regulation catch behind the stumps. Day 4 ended with Bangladesh at 328/5 in the second innings, following on as Siddique was unbeaten on 66 and captain Shakib al Hasan was not out on 2.
It was the same story on the final day of the Test match. The young Bangladeshi team was bound to be nervous and under pressure as they were fighting to draw the match. And England took full advantage of their mental state.
Andrew Strauss plotted dismissals very well and it produced immediate results. Shakib al Hasan and Junaid Siddique fell quickly, earlier in the day, courtesy some good bowling by Finn once again.
This left two new batsmen at the crease, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, at drinks with the score reading 356/7. Bangladesh would have been hoping for the rains to come again. But the weather gods supported the hosts.
At lunch, Bangladesh was bowled out for 382, a very low score to make from being at a strong position of 328/5, overnight. It left Steven Finn as a strong contender for the man-of-the-match with a five-wicket haul in the second innings, besides his four wickets in the first innings.
England needed a mere 160 runs to win. And they chased it in style, thanks to captain Strauss’ 82, which was his second fifty of the game. Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen finished off the chase with Trott contributing again with 36 not out, and Pietersen hurried off the finish with two boundaries, ending with 10 not out.
Finn indeed was the man-of-the-match, although some would feel that Trott deserved it as he scored 262 runs in the entire match. It was an under-par performance from both the sides, something which both the captains would agree with. England weren’t looking the dominant Test team that they are at home, and Bangladesh need to be mentally stronger to challenge teams like England.
With the Ashes around the corner, Strauss and coach Andy Flower will have to work on the bowling as Australian conditions would be harsh for England’s ‘swing’ bowlers. And if they continue to play like this, it could be curtains not just for the Ashes in winter, but the remaining English summer when Pakistan come later.
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