Blockbusting England must beware complacency


Champions Trophy, England vs Bangladesh

Two of the most-improved ODI teams of the last two years will be pitted against each other in the Champions Trophy opener. England and Bangladesh have turned heads with their progressive approach as they have developed settled line-ups that can match any top team. Both have been entertaining to watch, too, promoting cricketers who have natural flair and an eye for the big occasion.
England have an out-and-out aggressive batting line-up that can sometimes be as deep as No. 11. Eoin Morgan and Joe Root are the experienced hands in a team that has topped the 400-run mark twice in the last two years; 300-plus totals have become England’s ODI staple.
Ben Stokes is rapidly developing into one of the best allrounders in the world, an ode to the England approach of picking genuine allrounders over bits-and-pieces cricketers. Uncertainty persists as to the condition of Stokes’ knee but he – along with Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid – will be key to England’s chances of success in the Champions Trophy.
In the spotlight
Mark Wood brought himself into the limelight after his stunning final over in the second ODI against South Africa handed England the series. His pace was always impressive but through this performance, he showed that he can bring it to the toughest stage of a game. England’s bowling attack needs an X-factor in the Champions Trophy, and Wood looks like the man who can provide it.
Shakib Al Hasan has won the most Man-of-the-Match awards for Bangladesh but he hasn’t won one since the first ODI against Afghanistan in September last year. Since then, he has averaged 28.38 with the bat and 41.62 with the ball, which is very unlike Shakib of the last 10 years. But more often than not, he doesn’t let a slide go for too long, and the Champions Trophy opener is the perfect occasion to break it.
Team news
Jonny Bairstow appears set to miss out as England stick with the out-of-form Jason Roy. Stokes has been passed fit to play but will have another test on the morning of the game to see how much he can bowl; that may affect the balance of the attack, with Jake Ball the first-reserve seamer.
England: (probable) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Adil Rashid, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 Mark Wood
Through their performances in the last week, Rubel Hossain and Mehedi have, in all likelihood, won individual battles ahead of Taskin Ahmed and Sunzamul Islam for the third seamer and second spinner slots. Meanwhile, the Imrul Kayes v Sabbir Rahman debate for the No. 3 spot is still in favour of the incumbent Sabbir.
Bangladesh: (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Mehedi Hasan, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Pitch and conditions
Historically, The Oval is known to offer batting-friendly pitches, which goes hand-in-hand with how ICC events have prepared surfaces of late. But batting first here in a day game actually favours the bowling unit. The ground has not hosted a day ODI in the last four years, and the team batting first has averaged a meagre 213 on the last five occasions. This year during the Royal London One-Day Cup, the side batting first in day games averaged 244 runs.—AFP

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