Bangladesh are the seventh-ranked team and England are ranked number one, so it would have been overly optimistic to expect the Tigers to beat the form team in world cricket. It would have been a little more realistic to expect that Bangladesh would put up a fight and stay in the contest for a majority of the match, because the Tigers have shown the will to fight against steep odds in the past. Even with Shakib Al Hasan’s sterling century that took him to the top of the run charts in the ongoing World Cup, it would be hard to pinpoint a stage where Bangladesh were actually keeping pace with their rampant opponents during a 106-run loss at the Cardiff Wales Stadium yesterday.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza talked about defence being the best offence when it came to absorbing the aggression from England’s batting. In opting to field first at the toss he showed that he was also defensive about England’s bowling, presumably protecting his batsmen from facing Jofra Archer and Co on a pitch that was under covers for more than the last 24 hours. In doing so, he allowed England’s strong suit to meet Bangladesh’s weak link and, on the back of a raucous 121-ball 153 from opener Jason Roy and a powerful 64 off 44 balls from Jos Buttler, pile up 386 for six. Long before Mustafizur Rahman was the last man out with seven balls left in the innings, the match was all but over at the halfway stage as Bangladesh’s ODI best had been 330 for six in the tournament opener against South Africa, and that is how it remained.
In chase of the daunting total, England’s highest in World Cups, England’s pacers proved to be too daunting as, instead of the early moisture, they had ample scoreboard pressure with which to bully the Tigers. The express Jofra Archer bowled Soumya Sarkar with a peach that flew for straight over the boundary off the left-hander’s off stump. Tamim Iqbal, having gotten to 19 off 28 balls, was beaten by pace as he tried to force the issue against Mark Wood, with the ball hitting bat halfway through his attempted, advancing pull and looping to cover.
With the score reading 63 for two in the 12th over, it was once again Shakib and Mushfiqur who repaired the damage with their second century partnership and third 50-plus stand in three matches.
Shakib proved to be the only Bangladesh player who successfully adapted to the situation and conditions. After a difficult start, he batted relatively untroubled and in the company of Mushfiqur, brought up his fifty off 53 deliveries in the 19th over. He was harsh on anything loose from leg-spinner Adil Rashid and by the time he got to his fifty, was comfortable against the express pace of Mark Wood and Archer. The required run rate was hovering around the 10 runs-per-over mark even as the duo brought up the century stand in the 29th over, and Mushfiqur’s dismissal, caught off a leading edge at point off Liam Plunkett for 44 in the same over, put an end to any thoughts Bangladesh may have had of pulling off an unlikely heist.
Mohammad Mithun was out second ball in the following over trying to heave Rashid only for the edge to be taken by the wicketkeeper and Mahmudullah Riyad was slow to start with. Shakib brought up his eighth ODI hundred off 95 balls in the 33rd over with a single off Archer.
There was to be one last hurrah from Shakib in the 39th over when the all-rounder hit three boundaries, including two straight pulls, off Chris Woakes. Ben Stokes however bowled Bangladesh’s lone fighter with a yorker in the next over, with Shakib’s innings ending 121 off 119 balls with 12 boundaries and a six. Scoring at least a half-century in each of his three World Cup innings so far, Shakib took his tally to 260, well clear of second-placed Roy on 215.
The rest of the batting just made up the numbers, trying to bat out the 50 overs but failing in that as well.
Earlier, Roy’s excellence in batting was helped by Bangladesh’s poor bowling and fielding as after keeping England to 15 in the first five overs, Bangladesh lost the plot both with the ball and in the field as England’s vaunted top order -- starting with a 128-run opening partnership between Jonny Bairstow and Roy -- kept accelerating towards a mammoth score without much challenge from the Tigers. The fielding helped the opposition play risk-free cricket early on, as Bangladesh failed to make head or tails of the oblong dimensions of the ground, with outfielders allowing easy couples and triples -- and even an all-run four -- by failing to attack the ball and cut off the singles.
Bairstow was caught for 51 in the 20th over off Mashrafe to the only good piece of Bangladeshi fielding of the day, caught off a leading edge by a diving Mehedi Hasan Miraz, and Joe Root was bowled by Mohammad Saifuddin in the 32nd over after a 77-run partnership, by which time Roy had brought up his century off just 92 balls. In the company of Root and captain Eoin Morgan, he accelerated more after that, scoring 53 runs off 28 balls before, having hit a hattrick of sixes against Mehedi, holing out to Mashrafe at extra cover in the 35th over.
By that time Buttler had taken over, hitting tennis forehand-style sixes and even after he, Morgan and Stokes departed within two overs of each other trying to maximise the total, a nine-ball 27 from number eight Plunkett tied the bow on England’s utter domination of Bangladesh.