England on edge in last chance saloon
ADELAIDE, March 8
England face a potential banana skin when Eoin Morgan’s beleaguered side play Bangladesh in a make-or-break World Cup clash in Adelaide on Monday. England lost to Bangladesh by two wickets in the last World Cup in 2011 – a match in which Morgan made 63 – but still survived the shock defeat to qualify for the quarterfinals. There will, however, be no second chance this time as England, with one win in four matches, must beat both Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval and Afghanistan in Sydney on March 13 to stay in contention for the last eight.
Even that may not be enough if Bangladesh, who have five points to England’s two, upset co-hosts New Zealand in Hamilton on March 13 to squeak through to the quarterfinals from Pool A.
Morgan will be expected to lead from the front but the gifted left-hander had scored just two half-centuries in 16 World Cup matches so far, nine of them playing for Ireland in 2007.
England have been defeated by Bangladesh just twice in 15 one-day internationals, but a woeful World Cup record over the last 20 years will have even their most optimistic supporters worried. England lost every game against a Test-playing nation in 1996, were dumped out in the first round at home in 1999 and again in 2003, and failed to make the semifinals in the last two editions in 2007 and 2011.
England’s lone win this time has been against minnows Scotland, but their most embarrassing moment came last Sunday when Sri Lanka chased down what seemed a reasonably challenging target of 310 with nine wickets and 16 deliveries to spare.
In 2011, England had all but wrapped up the match in Chittagong when Bangladesh’s ninth-wicket pair of Mohammad Mahmudullah and Shafiul Islam put on 58 off 56 balls to seal victory with six balls remaining.
There has been a hundred each in the current tournament from Moeen Ali against Scotland and Joe Root in a losing cause against Sri Lanka, but just two other England batsmen have scored half-centuries.
Morgan himself has managed just 90 runs at an average of 22.50, but his biggest worry will be the ineffectiveness of his two pace spearheads James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Anderson’s two wickets so far have come at an unusually high average of 91, while Broad averages 92 for his two wickets.
“We certainly are not taking a win for granted,” said Morgan of Monday’s game. “Bangladesh have come a long way in the last 10 years. If we play well, I have every confidence we can win this game. The illusion of making it a bigger game than it is, is probably the wrong thing to do.”
Bangladesh, meanwhile, have ensured that sharing points with co-hosts Australia in the rained-off match in Brisbane has not been wasted.
Having beaten Afghanistan before losing to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh came up with what skipper Mashrafe Mortaza described as their “best” run chase when they overhauled Scotland’s 318 for eight with 11 balls to spare for the lost of just four wickets. It was the second-best winning chase in World Cup history following Ireland’s 329 to defeat England in a Bangalore thriller four years ago.
Bangladesh will be without batsman Anamul Haque, who was ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to a dislocated shoulder and has been replaced by the experienced Imrul Kayes. Mor taza said the Tigers, who have made it past the first round just once in the World Cup, are keyed up for Monday’s day/night game. “That win over Scotland has given us a lot of confidence,” he said. “The whole team is very excited about this England game.”