T20 World Cup: England can never take Bangladesh lightly

Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan (left) is congratulated by teammate Nurul Hasan after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Pathum Nissanka. (AP)
Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan (left) is congratulated by teammate Nurul Hasan after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Pathum Nissanka. (AP)

Bengaluru - It's likely to be a battle between the spin of Bangladesh and pace of England

By Sumit Chakraberty

Published: Wed 27 Oct 2021, 12:43 AM

England’s white-ball captain Eoin Morgan owes a lot to Bangladesh. It was the debacle of getting knocked out of the 2015 ODI World Cup by the minnows that led to a transformation in English tactics, which ultimately led to their 2019 ODI World Cup triumph. Now they come up against the old vanquishers in a day game in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, which will be the first time England play Bangladesh in a T20 World Cup. Will the ghost of 2015 have any influence on the tactics?

Tora! Tora! Tora!

England lost four wickets chasing just 56 runs against the West Indies in their first game. But as in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! dramatising the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, England kept sending out one hitter after another, focusing on the net run rate regardless of the fallen wickets. They might lose an odd game or two with these tactics, especially on tricky wickets which demand prudence, but it’s likely to come off more often than not in T20 games. For Bangladesh, the smart move if they win the toss will be to put England in to bat and hope they commit harakiri.

Left-arm spin

Bangladesh have a world-class spinner in the experienced Shakib Al Hasan who is the top wicket-taker in T20 World Cups going all the way back to the 2007 edition. He took four wickets in a win over the West Indies in that World Cup. Bowling left-arm spin in tandem with him now is Nasum Ahmed who took a couple of wickets in their opening Group 1 match against Sri Lanka. England’s vulnerability to left-arm spin was exposed in their Test series in India this year. The Abu Dhabi pitch does not aid spin as much as the one in Sharjah, but the Zayed stadium does have a large ground, and Hasan and Ahmed could produce a flutter with clever tweaks.

Pace advantage

The absence of Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran depleted England’s pace bowling resources. But the trio of Tymal Mills, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan took out the West Indies top order in Dubai and will also enjoy the grass on the tacky Abu Dhabi pitch where pacers have been successful. If Mark Wood has recovered from the injury he picked up in a warm-up game, that will bring a 150 kmph pacer into the fray. Bangladesh don’t encounter raw pace often and could be rattled. England do have a couple of experienced spinners in leg-spinner Adil Rashid and off-spinner Moeen Ali, but the sub-continental team should find them easy to handle. So it’s likely to be a battle between the spin of Bangladesh and pace of England.

Old faithfuls

Bangladesh will rely on their old faithfuls Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah who starred with the bat in that famous win over England in 2015. Rahim was in vintage nick in their first Super 12 game against Sri Lanka, scoring an unbeaten 57 off 37 balls, while Mahmudullah, who is now captaining the side, came too far down at No. 6 and faced only five balls. The century-maker in the 2015 game, who is now the captain, should push himself into the top order.

Keep it simple

Mahmudullah lost the game against Sri Lanka by overthinking bowling changes instead of sticking to his best bowlers. A target of 172 on the Sharjah wicket would have been a match-winning one without the experiments that cost dearly, such as a solitary over of 15 runs from part-time off-spinner Afif Hossain who was pressed in against left-handers.

Sumit Chakraberty is a writer based in Bengaluru. Write to him at chakraberty@gmail.com

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