The worst fears of English cricket fans have come true. England have been knocked out of the World Cup following their embarrassing loss to Bangladesh. While the result was definitely an unexpected one, the defeat actually shouldn’t be viewed as an upset. It is a fact that England have been the most poor of all top Test-playing sides in the World Cup, and thus did not deserve to make it through to the quarter-finals. In spite of their heavy losses to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, England would have been silently confident of putting it across the weakest of all Asian sides. But, even Bangladesh were too good for them on the day.
It is no secret that England were under extreme pressure going into the must-win clash against Bangladesh against Adelaide. And, the jitteriness showed in the manner in which they first allowed Bangladesh to recover to post a healthy total, and even more during the chase when they never looked in control. At various points during the tense encounter, it looked like England had their noses ahead. But, on each such occasion, they managed to find a way to put the pressure back on themselves. The lack of self-belief in their own ability was evident in many of England’s dismissals.
The run out of Moeen Ali after England had gotten off to a decent start was the first sign that the team was feeling the heat. There was no communication at all between Ali and Ian Bell, and in the end, the former was comically run-out. A number of their set batsmen also fell to uncertain strokes. Bell may have got a half-century, but he played a nothing shot to be caught behind. James Taylor too came up with a terrible stroke to get out at the most inopportune moment. Towards the end, Jos Buttler batted brilliantly to bring England back in contention, but he too played a confused stroke to give his wicket away.
While England were pretty poor to say the least, Bangladesh went all out to scuttle their opponents, and it showed in the manner in which they fought back after every setback. James Anderson had dealt Bangladesh a big blow by sending back the openers for single-figure scores, but Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim brought all their experience into play to overcome the damage and put Bangladesh on top. Over the years, they have found themselves in numerous situations against top teams where they have struggled. And, that experience came in very handy for them as they looked to resurrect the innings, which they did successfully. While the contribution of Mahmudullah and Rahim stood out, Soumya Sarkar’s 40 was also crucial since it helped Bangladesh tide over the early trouble.
As mentioned earlier, England were uncertain with the bat. But, a lot of credit for the same must also be given to the Bangladesh pacers. Three of them chipped in with key contributions to ensure that England never had the momentum in the chase. And, they did so by bowling some very good deliveries, which resulted in poor strokes by the Englishmen. Mashrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed combined to keep England on the backfoot by constantly claiming wickets. In the end, they were successful in achieving what they set out to, and deservedly so.
--By A Cricket Analyst