Cool Collingwood warms to the task
Paul Collingwood demonstrated the value of experience to guide England to a comfortable victory over Bangladesh in the opening match of the one-day series in Mirpur.
Set a testing 229 to win following Tamim Iqbal’s splendid hundred, there was a hint of wobble when the tourists slipped to 96 for three following the loss of captain Alastair Cook.
But Collingwood, England’s most capped one-day player, eased the nerves in the dressing room and beyond with a superbly-paced unbeaten 75 to carry his side home with six wickets and four overs to spare at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.
While underlining Collingwood’s value to the England cause - he also bowled seven respectable overs of medium pace - his innings rendered Tamim’s magnificent effort in vain, and left Bangladesh ruing an eighth successive defeat in the one-day arena.
The beauty of Collingwood’s innings lay in its simplicity: he rotated the strike adroitly, never ran with anything less than aggressive intent and collected boundaries whenever the opportunity arose.
There were five in his favoured region wide of long-on, and seven in total off the 100 balls he faced, and it was fitting that he was at the crease when England secured victory - and a 1-0 lead in the three-match series - courtesy of a single into the off side.
If Collingwood completed the job, Cook deserves credit for supplying the early impetus courtesy of a rapid 64, while Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior made 33 and 30 not out respectively in decisive stands with Collingwood for the fourth and fifth wicket.
Earlier, Tamim saw eight wickets fall before he eventually perished for 125, made off just 120 deliveries, in the 43rd over of a fractured innings that served as a graphic illustration of Bangladesh’s chequered history in international cricket.
If Tamim, aged just 20, is one of the many talented youngsters the country has produced, that Naeem Islam’s 25 was the next highest contribution reflects the inconsistencies that have stunted their progress at the highest level.
Mushfiqur Rahim made a useful 22, while Graeme Swann, England’s only specialist spinner, continued his fine tour by taking 3-32. There were also two wickets for Stuart Broad.
The innings was dominated by Tamim, who punished England’s seamers for dropping short with alarming regularity early on, on a pitch containing no great pace, before demonstrating his maturity by adopting a more measured approach to suit the situation.
Although he edged the second ball of the game for four and was put down by Morgan, at short cover, off Ryan Sidebottom when he had made 10, he relied little on fortune thereafter.
Broad was driven gloriously over deep midwicket for six by Tamim moments before Tim Bresnan had Imrul Kayes taken at mid-on courtesy of a leading edge off a slower ball.
Tamim refused to modify his approach despite Junaid Siddique clipping a Broad half-volley to debutant Craig Kieswetter at square-leg, but he was forced to rein in his attacking instincts when Aftab Ahmed was run out attempting a single to Kevin Pietersen at mid-on two overs later.
England succeeded in stemming the flow of boundaries as Shakib Al Hasan struggled to find his fluency, and the pressure eventually told when the captain was caught behind via a faint outside edge as he used his feet to Swann.
A change of ball prompted by a dusty pitch helped England break a 34-run stand for the fifth wicket, Mushfiqur comfortably run out after Tamim refused his call for an impossible single to Pietersen at cover and both batsmen ended up at the non-striker’s end.
When Mahmudullah chipped the next ball, bowled by Swann, to short midwicket, Bangladesh were 146 for six and the tail exposed.
But Naeem kept Tamim company for 10 overs, rotating the strike whenever possible during a seventh-wicket partnership worth 63 that saw Tamim go to a splendid 94-ball hundred, his third in one-day internationals.
However, a late-innings assault failed to materialise as Naeem drove Luke Wright’s first ball to cover, Mashrafe Mortaza was lbw sweeping Swann, and Tamim, stepping across to the off side four balls into the batting powerplay, was bowled by Broad.
England’s reply was kickstarted not by Kieswetter, the man whose powerful hitting earned him a late promotion from the England Lions squad, but by Cook.
He drove Mashrafe Mortaza for two off-side fours in an over costing 14 before hoisting Naeem over midwicket, and went to a 44-ball half-century moments before Kieswetter, who was dropped on nought by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur off Shakib, was stumped for 19 giving Naeem the charge.
Shakib was rewarded for a probing opening spell when he had Pietersen caught at slip after inside-edging a defensive push on to his pad, and Cook’s departure - adjudged lbw to a ball from Naeem that appeared to be sliding down the leg side - aroused Bangladesh’s hopes further.
Collingwood did all he could to dampen them with another in a long line of valuable contributions from the England middle order.
He shovelled the ball repeatedly into and over the leg side to ensure the required run-rate retained within England’s grasp, while Morgan chipped in despite never looking entirely comfortable at the crease.
The left-hander provided Naeem with a third wicket when he drove loosely to cover, but Prior dominated an unbroken stand of 45 for the fifth wicket to confirm the inevitable.
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