England feel the stifling heat
With the rain relenting on Friday and the early morning sunshine drying out the MA Aziz Stadium on the second day yesterday, the two-day practice match between the BCB XI and England XI saw one full day's play at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong. A two-day warm-up is short enough as it is, but with the first day's play being called off due to a wet outfield, there was just enough time on the second day for the visitors to feel the heat as BCB XI finished the day one run short of England XI's first-innings score of 137 for three in the 45-overs-a-side affair.
For Bangladesh, the main takeaway was Soumya Sarkar's relatively untroubled 33, during which he batted for 12 minutes short of two hours before retiring to give other batsmen a go. His 96-ball innings saw two fours and as many sixes so there was a nice mix of attack and defence on a belter of a pitch, on which he shared an 88-run opening stand with Shahriar Nafees (51 off 79 balls).
"The plan today was to bat for as long as possible. The outfield was slow so picking the runs wasn't easy. I think the batting still went well," Soumya said after the match. "Nafees bhai batted quite well, and it didn't seem he had any problems. He played according to the merit of the ball. I tried to follow him, and stay at the non-striker's end."
But yesterday was more about England and how they dealt with the conditions. Choosing to bat first under the beating sun in 30 degrees Celsius temperature and soaring humidity, newcomer 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed got his first outing in England whites and made a relatively good fist of it, batting for 100 minutes and 56 deliveries to score 16 before being caught behind off the leg-spin of Sabbir Rahman, who was also captain for this match.
Before that, opener Ben Duckett carried his fine form from the ODI series into the longer version, scoring 59 off 63 balls with the help of six boundaries. He retired on 59 to give their best batsman Joe Root a hit, but the right-hander was trapped in front for two to give Sabbir his first wicket.
"We got as much out of the conditions as we could. Coming to the ground this morning we weren't sure that this match was going to start because we've had a lot of rain for the past four days," said senior England paceman Stuart Broad, who went wicketless in his four overs yesterday. "It was like a football ground, it was quite boggy and quite sandy. We considered going into the game bowling 45 overs of spin, not risking the pacers where it was really wet through the run-up. But especially bowling second, the seamers saw the saw the ground dry up slightly.
"The thing about the heat, like it was today, it gets you in nick pretty quickly. You have got to adapt quickly. We know from experience there is no point trying to bowl 7-8 over spells in this sort of heat because you just tire too quickly."
It was hard work for England as the previous few days' rainfall meant a slow outfield where only the best hit shots travelled to the ropes. Apart from Duckett, the three other batsmen -- Hameed, Moeen Ali and Gary Ballance -- who had spent time out in the middle managed only six boundaries between them. Instead, England were made to run 29 singles, 20 doubles and three triples.
Sabbir capped a good day with the ball by getting Moeen caught by Kamrul Islam Rabbi to end a 51-run third-wicket partnership.
Apart from Soumya and Nafees, both of whom retired, skipper Sabbir had a good outing with the bat, hitting a 45-ball 30 in fading light with four boundaries and a six. For England, veteran spinner Gareth Batty got the two wickets to fall, dismissing Sabbir, and Mosaddek Hossain to signal the end of play with BCB XI on 136 after 44 overs.
"It was very much about getting a run out. We had a quick chat about adapting to the conditions and learning about the Bangladesh players and what style of cricket they like to play and what will suit us best coming into this series and heading into tomorrow [the second two-dayer on Sunday]," added Broad.