THE CRICKET Champions Trophy began today in bright, early summer sunshine at The Oval as host nation England took on Bangladesh.
Bangladesh batted first, reaching 305 for 6 in their 50 overs – a very respectable target indeed, putting England under some pressure. Tamim was top scorer with a stylish and entertaining performance securing 128 runs, which faltered only once when he had trouble with a bouncer from Wood when he was on 19. Mushfiqur added a valuable 79 as the team raced to their highest One Day International score against England. Plunkett took 4 for 59.
England achieved a winning 308 for 2 – but it did take them 48.2 overs. Not out at the end were Root, top scorer with 133 (his tenth century and highest score in One Day Internationals), and Morgan, who notched up 75 (surviving a tense appeal against being caught by Tamim, after TV replays). Hales shared a second wicket partnership with Root of 159, before a powerful shot, heading for the leg side boundary, was caught, leaving Hales just short of his century, on 95.
England will be pleased by another good batting performance, but the bowlers may be on the receiving end of a good talking to as the team prepares for its next matches. Fast bowler Jake Ball gave away eight runs an over, and the team will want to see that figure coming down if they are to fulfil their promise.
England are the bookies’ favourites to win the tournament, but they are not without their injury concerns. Ben Stokes passed a fitness test on his knee just before the match and did manage to bowl seven overs. However, it is, clearly, tough at the top. Chris Woakes, England’s top performing bowler in One Day Internationals, is reported to have strained his side and bowled just two balls before retiring. He’s off for a scan before an assessment of the injury can be made. The vital Root, England’s top performing batsman, seemed to have sustained some injury to his leg during the match, but this seems to be less serious for England, as he managed to stay on the field.
England captain Eoin Morgan said, “When the guys bat like that it is a lot easier than it used to be. When you have Joe Root in your side and an in-form Alex Hales, that is a huge factor. They struck the ball really well. Joe is the glue in our side. He has scored a lot of runs in the last couple of years and continues to do it. He is not slow. He is batting at pace. He has been working on his power hitting and today it worked.”
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said, “On this wicket we were a little bit short. In the middle patches we couldn’t get any wickets and Root and Morgan took the game away from us. At the end of our innings with six or seven wickets in hand we could have been a lot better. We need more variety in our attack. We will think about playing an extra bowler.”
It’s mixed fortunes for the two sides now. A win against New Zealand in Cardiff on Tuesday next week should England through to the semi-finals. Bangladesh will be looking to beat Australia on Monday to avoid leaving the tournament.
•BBC2 is showing highlights of the match at 23.30 tonight.
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