The second Test at Manchester promised to provide great entertainment after the outcome of the first Test at Lords. England was expected to win, and they did. However, the victory was very tricky for England as it had to overcome some very solid batting by Bangladesh in both the innings.
Hence, this test was a good chance for England to show that they were the same dangerous side which won the Ashes last summer at home, and would go on to defend it in Australia this year.
Under sunny conditions, Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat first on a slow pitch. Strauss and his opening partner, Alastair Cook gave England a good start. Cook was not amongst the runs, after his exploits as captain in Bangladesh in March.
He looked settled, until Strauss got out to a good delivery by the young Shaiful Islam, giving a regulation catch to a waiting Imrul Kayes at third slip. The score was 44/1 when the double-centurion of the last Test, Jonathan Trott came out to bat. However, it wasn’t long until Shaiful came up with another peach of a delivery which angled into Trott and bowled him comprehensively.
Why wasn’t Shaiful picked for the Lords Test? This must have been the question in every Bangladeshi fan’s mind, after the wicket of Trott. Kevin Pietersen, at No.4, joined Cook. Both of them wanted to build a huge partnership, but were prevented from doing so thanks to Cook falling to spinner Abdur Razzak, off his very first ball of the series.
At lunch, England was tottering at 92/3 with wickets belonging to the two changes that Shakib al Hasan had brought into the team for the Test. Could this session have an impact on the course of the match? It didn’t prove to be, as England showed that winning a session doesn’t necessarily mean that a team has the momentum to do well later in a Test match.
Kevin Pietersen was batting like a free bird, especially attacking the left-arm spinners. He scored 64 runs off just 81 balls, until it was Shakib al Hasan who got him out again!
A very rash shot ended Pietersen’s innings and England were in a Catch-22 situation at 153/4 when the 1-Test old Eoin Morgan came out to bat. It was a good opportunity for him to prove his worth as a Test player.
Morgan took the responsibility to attack, while Bell was quietly at the other end scoring runs by taking the ones and twos time and again. At tea, Bell reached his fifty and he looked to score a lot more.
Morgan was dismissed by an erratic Shahadat Hossain, giving him his first wicket of the match. However, that didn’t stop Bell as he had an able partner in Matt Prior. The duo batted right till the end of the first day putting England in a much better position at 275/5 in 83 overs.
One of the highlights of the second day was Ian Bell reaching a well-deserved hundred. Prior also made a half-century, which was crucial for England to build a challenging first-innings total. However, England suffered a setback with the wicket of Bell, leaving England at 399/7 at lunch.
The last three wickets fell quickly as England were bowled out for 416, just after lunch. The Bangladeshi skipper ended once again as his team’s best bowler with figures of 5/121 in 37.3 overs which included four maidens. Shakib al Hasan’s proved that the Old Trafford was a spinner’s paradise.
In 2006, Muttiah Muralitharan took 10 wickets in the match to lead Sri Lanka to a win against England. In 2008, Daniel Vettori picked five wickets in the first innings, although England went on to win. So it was a good sign for spinners to have a good game altogether.
Tamim Iqbal in my book, is definitely a prime candidate for winning the ICC’s Emerging Player of the Year award this year. And his 108 runs off just 114 balls is justification of my belief. A strike rate of 94.73 only goes to show the mess that he got England into, and what a Sehwag-like impact he can make.
He is proving to be an asset for Bangladesh and his growing maturity was shown even as wickets fell at the other end, with Swann doing good business with the old ball.
The next highest score was 36, by his opening partner Imrul Kayes! Bangladesh were cruising at 126/0, until it was time to watch the Swann show. Quick wickets of Junaid Siddique and Jahurul Islam alongwith Anderson picking Tamim Iqbal reduced Bangladesh to a treacherous 169/4, when Shakib joined Mohammad Ashraful at the crease.
Bangladesh’s two best batsmen also struggled as Shakib fell to Swann’s brilliant flighted delivery outside the off-stump, giving Swann his fourth wicket of the match. Ashraful became the young Ajmal Shahzad’s first Test victim, leaving Bangladesh at 200/6.
From here on, there is nothing much for Bangladeshi fans to even watch, let alone rejoice. Swann ended the Bangladeshi innings in style, with a five-wicket haul as Bangladesh was all out for 216 at the end of the second days play.
It was proved that Swann is extremely effective on a turning track as he went wicketless on a much grassier Lords surface. So Swann would have to improve a lot as Australia isn’t too far away. He needs to recreate the magic that he had displayed in South Africa, if England has to do well to retain the Ashes and rise in the ICC Test rankings.
However, the match was not over by any means even as the end was hasty. Bangladesh was trailing by 203 runs in the first innings, very similar to the situation they were in at Lords.
Strauss had no hesitation in asking Bangladesh to bat again. It was a good chance for Bangladesh to bat better as they would be rejuvenated enough after a demoralizing second day.
However, England’s bowlers were much fresher than Bangladesh’s batsmen because cloudy skies dominated the start of the third day’s play. England took full advantage of the poor weather conditions as they showed that they are very much the dangerous home team that they traditionally have been.
Bangladesh’s second innings was dominated by the English pace duo of James Anderson and Steven Finn. Tamim Iqbal, who had so far scored 266 runs in 3 innings in the series so far, fell of the second ball of the innings to a short-pitched ball from Anderson. Anderson was at his best, as he picked Iqbal both the times in the match.
It didn’t take long for Kayes, Siddique and Jahurul Islam to fall as Bangladesh were left reeling at 21/4 in 8 overs only. Ashraful tried to put up a fight but was dismissed on 14, giving Anderson his third wicket of the innings. The other formalities were completed by the rest of the crop, especially Finn who picked up another five-wicket haul in the series.
Mahmudullah delayed the inevitable by scoring a sedate 38, but these individual performances haven’t allowed Bangladesh to play as a team. And the result was a loss to Bangladesh by an innings and 80 runs. It just took one session for Bangladesh to be bowled out on Day 3.
Shakib al Hasan had every right to be disappointed with the batting, which failed miserably in swinging conditions. The team could be consoled with Tamim Iqbal’s performances which won him the man of the series award. Andrew Strauss was a happier man and rated this victory a lot higher than that at Lords, for obvious reasons.
England have also benefited with Steven Finn sharing the man-of-the-series award with Iqbal for picking 15 wickets in the series. It is good to see Finn coming off age and he could be the next Harmison for England, with the build that he has. However there are still concerns for the team. They need to enhance their game in such a way that they are unbeatable.
Under cloudy skies, England are unbeatable but in sunny conditions, the same cannot be said. Australia would have hard, bouncy pitches and sunny conditions.
The bowling, in particular has to be worked upon as if Bangladesh can win sessions easily, why can’t teams like Australia do so? And if the immediate future is concerned, why can’t a new-look Pakistan team look to win a Test series in England for the first time since 1992?
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