Wobbly Win For England
England made hard work of a small run-chase before eventually seeing off Bangladesh in the Super Eight clash in Barbados.
England averted a possible World Cup humiliation by scraping to an unconvincing four-wicket win over Bangladesh to retain a tenuous hold on their hopes of progressing further in the tournament.
Successive defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia left England needing to win their remaining three matches to have any hope of qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time since 1992.
They had hoped to make a statement and show the rest of the tournament they could emerge as challengers after all by overcoming Bangladesh, the weakest of the Test teams left in the competition.
But instead of producing a confident display to give South Africa, their opponents next Tuesday at the Kensington Oval, plenty to think about they just about edged home after a nervy chase of Bangladesh's modest 143.
It took the composure of Paul Collingwood and Paul Nixon to finally see England home with 5.1 overs remaining after they had slipped to a perilous 110 for six with left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique claiming two wickets in an over.
Unlike Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, who all cruised to victory against Bangladesh, England almost became the third major scalp for Test cricket's newest nation following their shock victories over India and South Africa during the tournament.
England looked to have done all the hard work by dismissing Bangladesh for a below-par total after they struggled to cope with the extra pace and bounce offered by the pitch.
Compared to the slow, low surfaces offered elsewhere in the competition, this one appeared to have been made for England's seamers and they tore through Bangladesh's batting line-up after captain Michael Vaughan won the toss and decided to bowl.
Using regular short balls as a potent weapon, they reduced Bangladesh to 65 for six and put them on course to break the World Cup record for the lowest score in a match between two Test nations of 74 set by Pakistan against England in 1992.
But a stubborn 47-run stand between impressive all-rounder Saqibul Hasan, who top-scored with an unbeaten 57, and Mashrafe Mortaza halted the slide and allowed Bangladesh to recover and reach a more respectable total.
Lancashire seamer Sajid Mahmood had been under pressure for his place after conceding 60 in 9.2 overs during Sunday's defeat to Australia, but justified his retention by claiming three for 27.
New-ball partner Jimmy Anderson grabbed two for 30 and Monty Panesar claimed three for 25, the best figures of his one-day international career.
Mahmood could have enjoyed even better figures but for the farcical sequence of events which led to the run-out of Bangladesh captain Habibal Bashar in his third over.
Opener Shahriar Nafees had chipped Mahmood straight to Vaughan at mid-on, but the England captain fumbled the simplest of chances as the batsmen crossed.
Unfortunately for Bashar, who had stopped mid-crease assuming the catch would be taken, Vaughan threw the ball to wicketkeeper Nixon in frustration and the run-out was completed with yards to spare.
That was symptomatic of a lacklustre England display in the field which allowed Saqibul to hammer a six and six fours in his unbeaten innings and ensured Bangladesh at least reached a respectable total.
It should not have been a total which troubled England, but they approached their reply with none of the urgency shown by other sides against Bangladesh and looked tentative and tense from the start.
Their cause was not helped by Ian Bell falling for a duck in the fourth over of their reply while captain Vaughan's struggles with the bat continued despite top-scoring with a scratchy 30 off 59 balls.
He had hit only 12 runs in his previous four innings in the tournament and was dropped on five off left-arm seamer Syed Rasel by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim standing up to the stumps.
Vaughan was also given the benefit of the doubt of two early lbw appeals by Rasel and scratched around until the 21st over before top-edging an attempted slog-sweep off left-arm spinner Abdur Razzaq.
None of the top order were particularly convincing with Andrew Strauss falling lbw to Rasel playing across the line and Kevin Pietersen chipping to midwicket.
It looked like England could at least celebrate a return to form from all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who bludgeoned three fours and a six in his 23 off 21 balls before being the first of two victims in five balls for Rafique.
Trying to play off the back foot, Flintoff was bowled after being beaten by the quicker ball and Ravi Bopara soon followed when he chopped onto his stumps for a duck.
But the composure of Collingwood, who finished unbeaten on 23 from 74 balls, and the big-hitting of Nixon ensured England's collapse – they lost four wickets for 40 runs in 11 overs – was halted with their 37-run stand.
On paper their victory with 31 balls remaining reads like a comfortable triumph, but England will know just how close they came to suffering their first ever defeat to Bangladesh and how much work they have to do if they are to beat South Africa and West Indies to reach the last four.
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