All-round England end Bangladesh’s impressive run at home

Ben Duckett (63) and Sam Billings (62) played with a fair amount of dash and dazzle to lay the platform for England’s four-wicket victory, which helped the visitors clinch the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series 2-1. In a match full of continuous twists and turns, Ben Stokes (47 not out) calmed down the jangling nerves in the camp to steer England home.

After Shafiul Islam pegged back the tourists by removing Jonny Bairstow (15) and Duckett in quick succession, Jos Buttler (25) and Stokes shared a quick-fire stand of 48 off 44 balls as the visitors nosed ahead. Mahrafe Mortaza, though, cleaned up the England captain with a slower one to leave the door ajar. Stokes and Chris Woakes (27 not out) then ran the Bangladeshi fielders ragged by pinching singles and twos to seal the series. England’s impressive victory also meant that the hosts slipped to their first series defeat at home in ODIs since losing to India in 2014.

At the start of the chase, Billings and James Vince (32) set about collecting runs at a healthy rate to provide the launchpad for the middle-order to come into play. The opening pair added 63 runs in 11.4 overs and the conditions also seemed to suit them as the ball seemed to be reaching the batsman quicker due to dewy conditions. Billings’s pyrotechnics in limited-overs cricket was on full display as he used reverse sweeps and sweeps to irk the bowlers. He even swept Mortaza for a six. On the other hand, Vince cracked some delightful drives.

While Nasir Hossain managed to end the opening stand by sending back Vince, another useful partnership (64 off 12.5 overs) ensued as Billings and Duckett kept the scorecard moving, not letting any pressure get to England. Even after the dismissal of Billings, who top-edged a sweep off Mosaddek Hossain, Duckett continued to find the boundary boards to keep up with the required run-rate. Duckett showed his enterprise with the willow by lofting the spinners with a stable base.

Although Bangladesh managed to trigger a mini collapse after the half-way stage, Stokes played with an air of composure and was supported well by Woakes, who also got a lucky break, as they took England over the line with 2.1 overs to spare.

Earlier, Sabbir Rahman (49) and Mushfiqur Rahim (67 not out) chipped in with handy contributions to help Bangladesh notch up a competitive total. The opening pair of Imrul Kayes (46) and Tamim Iqbal (45), too, soaked the pressure of batting in tricky conditions to compile useful knocks.

The day started under gloomy skies with rain threatening to play spoilsport. However, it relented just in time for the highly-anticipated third game to commence. Bangladesh, who were inserted in to bat, made a sedate start. Both Tamim and Imrul were willing to bide their time in order to gauge the conditions. As soon as Woakes and Jake Ball banged it short, the duo used the pull shot to good effect, collecting a stream of boundaries. In fact, the England seamers would have been better served if they had pitched it up as there was a bit of assistance for the seamers. But Woakes and Ball struggled to find the right length and Buttler was forced to introduce Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes into the attack.

Just when it felt as if Kayes, the centurion of the first ODI, had got into his groove, the left-handed batsman perished. It turned out to be a soft dismissal as Stokes drifted one on Kayes’s pads and the opener could only offer a simple chance to James Vince stationed at square leg. Rashid then dented Bangladesh further by snaring Tamim’s wicket. The legspinner attempted the googly, but dragged it down only for Tamim to cut it into the hands of Bairstow at extra cover. Mahmdullah, too, soon followed Tamim back to the pavilion.

At 122 for 3, England seemed to be clawing their way back into game. However, the pair of Rahim and Sabbir (49) stitched an enterprising stand of 54 to keep the runs ticking over. With a lethal mix of pulls and deftly placed sweeps, Sabbir and Rahim unsettled England’s spinners. Rashid, though, accounted for Sabbir to pick up his third wicket. The 28-year-old planted the seeds of doubt in the batsman by tossing the ball up in the air and spun it across Sabbir to elicit the outside edge – a classical legspinner’s dismissal.

With the track continuing to aid the spinners, Moeen bagged the key scalp of Shakib Al Hasan (4). It was a freakish dismissal as the offspinner dragged Shakib out of the crease with the one that turned away from him. Despite Buttler not being able to collect it cleanly, the ball deflected off his gloves and onto the stumps. Nasir (4), who had composed a vital innings in the second ODI, followed soon after as he smacked a full toss straight to Vince at mid-wicket.

With England taking wickets at regular intervals, it stalled the home side’s progress to some extent. Rahim, however, was unburdened by wickets falling around him and played a sure-footed knock to lift the hosts to a healthy total. He also got a reprieve as Stokes grassed a rather tough chance at long-off. Mosaddek (38 not out) made an impact as well by thumping a few hefty blows in the slog overs. Rashid ended up with four scalps to his name.

The visitors were rewarded in the end for playing with spirit and spunk. The buoyant England camp now would look to win the two-match Test series.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 277/6 in 50 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 67*, Sabbir Rahman 49; Adil Rashid 4-43) lost to England 278 for 6 in 47.5 overs (Ben Duckett 63, Sam Billings 62; Mahrafe Mortaza 2-51) by four wickets.


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