England T20 machine purring after comprehensive win over Bangladesh
Abu Dhabi was the setting for England’s only afternoon game of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. 25 kilometres out of the main city, the spaceship-like Sheikh Zayed Stadium played the unlikely host to the first-ever T20 International between England and Bangladesh.
On paper, West Indies and Bangladesh offered a challenging and tricky start to the tournament, yet the manner in which England have dispatched two experienced international sides will do nothing but please captain Eoin Morgan and coach Chris Silverwood. As perfect as a start that they could have wished for. Alongside Pakistan, they have begun their campaign in dominant fashion.
It was yet another ominous display by England, firstly in restricting Bangladesh to a paltry total of 124 for nine, before emphatically chasing it down with 35 balls to spare.
Two commanding and convincing victories, and a clear vindication of the strategy and the brand of cricket that they believe gives them every chance of yet another World Cup triumph.
If they go on to do so, England will become the first team to hold both the 50-over and the 20-over world titles simultaneously.
Pre-match much was made of the trial by spin that England would have expected from the Bangladeshi trio of Shakib Al Hasan, Mahedi Hasan and Nasum Ahmed on the slow surfaces in the UAE, but it was the unlikely spin duo of Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone of England that had Bangladesh stuttering in the scorching heat.
Amid the sweltering late-summer heat of the Arabian afternoon, England’s new ball extraordinaire Moeen Ali removed Liton Das and Mohammed Naim in consecutive balls before Liam Livingstone accounted for Mushfiqur Rahim and captain Mahmudullah. In between, Chris Woakes dismissed Shakib Al Hasan thanks to a superb flying catch from Adil Rashid.
England don’t miss a beat
England had started off with the ball in Abu Dhabi, just where they left off in Dubai. Woakes was exceptional and efficient as he and Moeen combined unchanged through the powerplay to leave the Tigers 27 for three. As on Saturday, England controlled the powerplay and thereafter, controlled the game.
Again Morgan turned to Moeen for the first over. Moeen went for consecutive boundaries and most captains would have been reluctant to give an off-spinner another over in the powerplay, but not Morgan. He stuck with his decision and his belief and when Das and Naim tamely got out one after the other, Moeen had ensured that the captain’s faith in him was again justified.
The strategy of opting for Moeen with the new ball is one that Morgan and more importantly, Moeen believes in. Without the pace of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood to attack with the new ball, it’s an alternative that has worked wonders so far and it will be likely be seen again against the right-left combination of Aaron Finch and David Warner on Saturday.
Moeen’s tournament stats read 7-1-35-4 and today, he and Livingstone combined for 6-0-33-4. Over their first two games of the tournament, England’s spinners have a staggering combined record of 16.2-1-87-10.
Often, captains have targeted Jason Roy with spin as they look to turn the ball away from the outside edge and deny him pace of the ball, but when Roy cut away Shakib’s first delivery for four, the tone was set. He went on to hit a brutal 61 before crediting the hard work he had done in the nets, with Liam Dawson – one of England’s reserves.
England were clinical in the run-chase and that would have put a smile on the face of Morgan. For all the talk of his form with the bat, the fact that he has just needed to face seven deliveries in the process of captaining his side to two emphatic wins is arguably a measure of the quality of his captaincy and the sheer class that England possess.
Yet, perhaps the most pleasing aspect of England’s imperious performance for Morgan would have been to see Moeen and Livingstone get rid of four of the Bangladesh top five, on a day where the indispensable and priceless Adil Rashid, who took four wickets for two runs against the West Indies, went wicketless and was England’s most expensive bowler.
Asked about his responsibility as the front-line spinner in the squad last week, Rashid was quick to say, “We don’t look at it like that. We look at it as a collective thing. We know we have five, six bowlers there that are all match winners. And on any given day, anybody can come and get wickets”
The collective nature of the England performance today showed exactly what Rashid meant. This is a side that firmly believes in the collective and a side that will take some beating at this tournament.
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