Strauss runs riot for ruthless England
Andrew Strauss produced one of the finest one-day innings by an England player as they swept to a crushing 144-run win over Bangladesh and a 2-1 NatWest Series triumph.
If there were any remaining doubts over the captain’s value to the limited-overs side ahead of this contest, he banished them in the most thrilling fashion with a remarkable 154 that married crisp strokeplay, unprecedented power and much bravura.
He and Jonathan Trott, who made a regal 110, shaped a wholly one-sided contest, propelling England to 347 for seven, to which Bangladesh could muster just 203 in reply.
If the Bangladesh bowlers failed miserably to repeat their Bristol heroics, their England counterparts made considerably better use of a pitch that offered enough assistance to persuade Mashrafe Mortaza to ask the hosts to bat first.
There were four wickets for the recalled Ravi Bopara to complement his blistering unbeaten 45 off 16 balls, but the outcome of what many predicted would be another tight game had long since ceased to be in doubt by the time Bopara sealed victory with five overs unused.
Strauss and Trott can take much of the credit for that. They put on a scarcely believable 250 for the second wicket, England’s highest partnership in one-day cricket and one of a clutch of milestones on a day that kept the historians almost as busy as the Bangladesh boundary fielders.
For Strauss, it was his best ODI score and the third highest by an England player; Trott’s hundred was his first at this level; it was England’s second highest total in 50-over cricket; and the highest total by an international side on this ground.
Strauss and Trott repaired the damage caused by Craig Kieswetter’s departure in the first over with great aplomb, punishing a woeful Bangladesh attack of whom only Mortaza can be spared criticism.
The skipper narrowly missed out on a hat-trick in claiming 3-31, removing Trott to spark a collapse that saw England lose six wickets for 48 runs, but he was powerless to prevent Bopara launching a ferocious late assault that climaxed by his taking 28 off the last over.
Shafiul Islam, the unfortunate bowler, was left nursing figures of 2-97 from nine overs.
Bangladesh, their optimism emboldened by Saturday’s historic win, were given early reason to cheer when Kieswetter perished to the fourth ball of the match, bowled via an inside edge as he pushed forward at Mortaza with leaden feet.
The response of Trott and Strauss, however, was emphatic, the former whipping Shafiul off his hips for four before Strauss pulled Mortaza over deep midwicket, the first of five sixes in his innings.
Aggression was a key part of their strategy as they set about restoring order, and there was no shortage of invention too, although Strauss’ switch-hits and reverse-sweeps met with varying degrees of success.
Trott generally favoured a more orthodox approach, showing his penchant for the leg side at the expense of seamers and spinners alike amidst the occasional punchy drive.
There was no better illustration of Strauss’ mindset - not to mention his growing assurance in the one-day arena - than when he danced down the pitch to hoist Abdur Razzak into the building site that will become the new pavilion next year.
If Mortaza can take credit for his frugal display, his impact was negated by a lack of discipline from the remainder of the attack, who bowled too short too often against batsmen renowned for their strength of the back foot.
Strauss went to his fourth one-day hundred off only 106 deliveries, six fewer than Trott, who stroked Shafiul through point to prompt an impassioned roar.
Strauss and Andrew Flintoff’s 226-run stand against West Indies at Lord’s in 2004 - England’s previous highest partnership in one-day cricket - was soon overhauled, and it took a rare miscue from Trott to give Bangladesh their first wicket for 40 overs.
He was well held by a tumbling Shakib Al Hasan at midwicket as he swung across the line, Luke Wright was caught behind charging his first delivery and Mortaza would have completed a hat-trick had Paul Collingwood’s leading edge carried to cover.
Eoin Morgan and Tim Bresnan located long-on either side of Strauss’ departure, the left-hander slicing Rubel Hossain to deep point with Robin Smith’s record 167 not out in sight. He had faced 140 balls and struck 16 fours to go with five sixes.
Bopara restored England’s momentum and provided a fitting climax to a pulsating innings by drilling Shafiul for three glorious sixes in a riotous final over that also saw him dropped by Rubel.
Bangladesh’s hopes of scoring seven an over, already faint at best, were dealt a mortal blow when Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes fell to Ajmal Shahzad within the first five overs of their reply, skying a slower ball to mid-off and caught behind via glove respectively.
Jahurul Islam and a slight hamstring strain forced Shahzad out of the attack - he was later joined off the pitch by Collingwood, who complained of a sore buttuck - and Junaid Siddique also rallied briefly before he fell in similar fashion to Tamim.
Stuart Broad hurried Jahurul into a pull and when Shakib was left stranded by Mohammad Ashraful’s aborted second run, Bangladesh were 86 for five as good as beaten.
Bopara’s initial five-over spell yielded the wickets of Ashraful - lbw playing back to an off-cutter - and Mortaza, who was caught behind forcing off the back foot.
A soporific eighth-wicket stand of 56 contained so little entertainment that a large chunk of the crowd had left for home when Mahmudullah was erroneously adjudged lbw to Michael Yardy for 42.
They also missed Razzak slicing to deep point and Bopara bowling Shafiul with a slower ball, but Strauss’ innings is sure to be imprinted on their memory for some time to come.