Different paths to same destination
There is an interesting similarity between the two teams ever since their last meeting in a World Cup match in Adelaide in 2015. While Bangladesh went from strength to strength following that famous 15-run win -- making it to the quarterfinals and following it up with three home-series victories against Pakistan, India and South Africa -- England took a different route to lick the wound of being thrown out of the World Cup from the group stage.
They transformed that pain into strength and played a kind of one-day cricket refreshingly different from that age-old calculative cricket. They played fearless and aggressive cricket which is similar to Bangladesh. Pakistan was the last team that bore the brunt of England's fury, conceding the highest ODI score of 443 in the third match at Nottingham.
So, when they two most attractive one-day units renew their rivalry at the home of Bangladesh cricket in Mirpur on October 7, there will be little to separate the two teams who are not afraid of expressing themselves.
It's true that England will be without their regular captain Eoin Morgan, who snubbed the Bangladesh trip on security concerns. They will also miss the services of exciting opening batsman Alex Hales and their most impactful batsman Joe Root, who will not feature in the three-match one-day series but will be available for the two-Test series.
But according to Bangladesh selector Habibul Bashar England are still the most balanced team with almost perfect replacements.
“[Joe] Root is the best England player across all formats. I do agree that he will be missed a bit. But apart from that, the other replacements are very good. They always pick teams considering the conditions and strength of the opposition. And if you look at the team for the Bangladesh series you will understand how well they planned for both the ODIs and Tests,” Bashar told The Daily Star yesterday.
Asked how disappointed he was to not have Mustafizur Rahamn in the England series due to injury, he said this was an area where Bangladesh had improved a lot.
“We have a lot key players now and Mustafizur is perhaps the most important of them all. But the most heartening aspect of this team is that it has got the ability to prosper without a Shakib, a Tamim or even without a Mustafizur. This team has proved it time and again,” said a confident former Bangladesh skipper.
Bangladesh understandably hold a poor head-to-head record against England, who have won 13 of 16 games. But the Tigers have shown marked improvement in the recent past, winning three of their last four games against England since their historic 15-run success in Bristol in 2010.
However Bashar considers this one-day series a completely different one compared to their previous series against England.
“Before we wanted to play good cricket and win, but now things have changed and this is a series we want to win,” added the selector.
Still, he refused to comment on whether Bangladesh would play to their strengths, which is their impressive pace attack, or revert to spin, something the English are not very good at handling in a typical sub-continent wicket.