Bopara warms to the task
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Ravi Bopara took his opportunity to impress as England began their ICC World Twenty20 campaign by coasting to a seven-wicket warm-up win over Bangladesh.
Bopara, back in the England reckoning following a winter left to his own devices, hit 62 off 49 balls to carry England to a target of 127 with 17 balls to spare at the Kensington Oval.
The Essex batsman got his chance at number three due to Kevin Pietersen’s late arrival in Barbados after spending time at home with his pregnant wife.
Bopara did not disappoint, sharing stands of 45 with Craig Kieswetter and 71 with Paul Collingwood to help England seal a professional victory which puts them in good heart ahead of tomorrow’s second warm-up fixture against South Africa at the same venue.
Having chosen to bat first, Bangladesh struggled to score freely against the left-arm spin of Michael Yardy, who claimed 3-20 off four overs, and mustered only 126 for seven.
Michael Lumb slapped Syed Rasel to cover to go early in England’s reply before a fair assessment could be made of his and Kieswetter’s new Twenty20 opening partnership.
But Kieswetter put his mark on proceedings with a six over wide long-on off Rasel’s left-arm pace and another over long-off at Shakib Al Hasan’s expense.
By then, Bopara was under way with a steered edge for four off his first ball, and, despite a maiden from Abdur Razzak, bowling the innings’ first over of spin, the second-wicket pair appeared set to negotiate the trial by lack of pace on an increasingly slow surface.
Kieswetter was undone, however, by a flatter ball from Shakib which turned and left him stranded yards out of his crease.
Bopara escaped on 30 when he poked a return chance back to a diving Razzak, but made no other mistakes - until he ran himself out with the scores level - as he cashed in again on a ground where he made his maiden Test hundred last year.
Collingwood showed his experience in accompanying Bopara for nine overs, making 32 not out off 27 deliveries.
Bangladesh rode their luck to get their uneven innings off to a handsome start, rushing to 39 without loss in five overs.
Imrul Kayes was dropped by Luke Wright, running in from deep midwicket, in the first over off James Anderson, while Mohammad Ashraful was caught behind off a Stuart Broad no-ball in an over whose first two deliveries went for 10.
Kayes was first to go, well held by a diving Lumb at third man from an upper-cut off Anderson, but it was the introduction of Yardy and off-spinner Graeme Swann that stalled the Bangladesh charge.
As wickets began to fall - six for 50 in 10 overs - the big shots subsided on a surface offering some turn.
Mohammad Ashraful was neatly caught down the leg side by Kieswetter in Yardy’s first over, and the Sussex all-rounder soon had two more, Aftab Ahmed holing out on the leg-side boundary and Shakib playing on as he came down the pitch.
From 88 for five at the 15-over mark, Bangladesh were indebted to Mahmudullah’s sensible unbeaten 38.
It was a bonus when he struck two boundaries to fine-leg off the last two deliveries, bowled by Tim Bresnan, but the target proved well within England’s reach.