Tamim’s brilliant century to no avail as Bangladesh goes down by eight wickets in tall-scoring opener.
In what could potentially go on to become a regular sight over the next two and a half weeks, a target in excess of 300 was chased down with supreme ease in the very first match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
England, quite unsurprisingly, was the team on the right side of the result as Joe Root’s unbeaten 133, Alex Hales’ 95 and Eoin Morgan’s undefeated 75 shaded Tamim Iqbal’s 128 and Mushfiqur Rahim’s 78, helping the host gun down Bangladesh’s 305 for 6 in 47.2 overs with eight wickets and 16 deliveries to spare at the Oval on Thursday (June 1).
With the bat, Bangladesh sent out strong signals but its bowling just couldn’t match the relentless charge by England. The home side did it in pairs; Hales and Root added 159 for the second wicket before Morgan joined Root in a game-finishing 143-run stand.
Bangladesh would have fancied its chances when England’s chase got off on a now familiar note with Jason Roy falling in the third over, his scoop shot landing in Mustafizur Rahman’s outstretched hands at short fine-leg.
But neither the early wicket nor Shakib Al Hasan taking the new ball could prevent Hales and Root from scoring quickly. With the pitch staying true throughout, Hales hit through the line and used the field restrictions well, with a typically brisk Root for company.
The pair was hardly in any trouble and kept up with the required run-rate without having to do anything fancy. They did it in a steady and gradual manner, not once getting bogged down; England scored 51 runs in the first ten overs and 59 in the next ten.
It didn’t help Bangladesh that it was one specialist bowler short after opting for Imrul Kayes over Mehedi Hasan. Mashrafe Mortaza had to slip in overs from Soumya Sarkar and Mosaddek Hossain, and held back Rubel Hossain until the 15th over. Even he could do little, as Hales swatted him through mid-wicket to bring up his half-century off 52 balls.
The only bowler who looked remotely threatening was Mustafizur, whose cutters forced leading edges which didn’t carry to the fielders. Mustafizur got the respect he deserved but Hales was harsh on the experienced pair of Rubel and Shakib, hitting them down the ground with disdain.
Hales raced into the 90s with a four and a six off Sabbir Rahman’s part-time off-spin in the 28th over, but fell short of a ton when he holed out going for a third straight boundary.
It didn’t turn out to be the opening Bangladesh needed as the in-form Morgan joined the well set Root and got going straightaway. Morgan had a close shave on 22 when he was 'caught' in the deep by Tamim, but the fielder's terrific effort was negated when television replays showed the ball touching the ground.
Root, meanwhile, continued to milk the bowling and inched towards his century. Both batsmen got past their milestones in Mortaza’s final over, and once the equation came down to 48 off the last seven, there was only one winner.
Bangladesh had been bowled out for just 84 by India at the same venue just two days earlier, but the missing link between the two games was Tamim, who made his ninth ODI century. His maturity came to the fore in the way he paced his innings; Tamim took 71 balls for his first 50 runs, but added 78 more off the next 71.
That Tamim started slowly, though, was also because of some tight bowling. After England opted to field, Chris Woakes got the tournament going with a maiden to Tamim, but left the field after bowling just two overs, aggravating a side strain that kept him out of his team’s previous ODI. Still, Woakes showed his colleagues the length to bowl to Tamim – short and on the body.
Tidy bowling from Mark Wood kept Tamim quiet – he took 11 balls to get off the mark and 20 to find his first boundary – but at the other end, Sarkar targeted Jake Ball to keep Bangladesh going. However, he yet again failed to convert a promising start as did Imrul Kayes, the No. 3.
By then, Tamim had shed his early jitters which meant Bangladesh accelerated after a slow start, moving on to 97 for 2 in 20 overs. From then on, it was a Tamim-Rahim show.
The duo piled on quick runs without going berserk, choosing contrasting methods. Tamim took the boundary-hitting route with some stylish whips and drives while Rahim was defter in his approach but just as effective.
Rahim raced to his half-century off just 48 balls, the pace allowing Tamim to slow down a touch for his century, which he got in the 39th over flicking Moeen Ali for a single. It took 124 balls, but once the milestone was crossed, Tamim switched to fifth gear.
Rahim too unleashed his cheeky avatar and the dual assault took Bangladesh past 250 in the 44th over. But just when they seemed set for a strong finish, Liam Plunkett got both in successive balls to break the momentum.
Bangladesh had two new batsmen in the middle which meant it could add only 43 more runs. In the end, that proved far too insufficient.