Bangladesh implode at Lord's
26 May 2005
By: Neil Pickup
Stories are told world-wide of the legend of cricketing conditions in England on an early morning in May. Skies leaden with cloud, biting winds sweeping across the ground and temperatures more reminiscent of Christmas than midsummer. Stories of balls swinging round corners and slip cordons six and seven strong.
Stories are rarely completely detached from a reality found on mornings like today. With a tinge of green in the pitch, Bangladesh opted for a Test debut for 16-year-old Mushfiqur Rahim and a triple-pronged seam attack of Mashrafe Mortaza, Anwar Hossain Monir and their second debutant Shahadat Hossain. England, meanwhile, introduced Ian Bell into the eleven at number four, with skipper Michael Vaughan moving up to three.
It was Vaughan who won the toss, opting to bowl first and take advantage of the morning, but neither new-ball bowler Steve Harmison nor Matthew Hoggard were able to provide an early breakthrough as both seamers overstepped with worrying regularity. The Bangladeshi opening pair of Javed Omar and Nafis Iqbal added 31 with little worry - barring a dropped catch in the slips off another no-ball - until Nafis' footwork let him down to Steve Harmison, backing away to leg and fending a simple chance to Marcus Trescothick at first slip.
The floodgates prised open, the Bangladeshis proceeded to throw themselves through them. Habibul Bashar hooked wildly at a shortish Hoggard outswinger, looping an easy skier to Geraint Jones behind the stumps. Teenager Aftab Ahmed at four displayed none of the responsibility required in such a situation as he slashed five boundaries from 13 deliveries before another wristy swish off Andrew Flintoff brought about his demise as Andrew Strauss held on at the second attempt in the slips.
Simon Jones soon produced arguably the delivery of the day in the midst of an exceptional six-over spell, finding pace allied to swing and a full length. Javed Omar, whose 22 was to prove the top-score, moved to guide a middle-and-leg-stump delivery through midwicket before the ball arced back to clip the outside edge on its way to Marcus Trescothick. A brace of ill-advised hooks brought Mohammad Ashraful to six before being comprehensively beaten by Flintoff.
Expecting another short delivery, Ashraful squared himself up - and omitted to follow the ball. Either being deceived or simply not picking the it up, the ball thudded into his pads infront of middle stump. Young Rahim and the experienced Khaled Mashud stabilised the innings somewhat - at the cost of the run rate - before umpire Krishna Hariharan ended the liaison as Mashud offered no shot to an in-ducker from Hoggard, despite the protestations of Hawkeye.
Mohammad Rafique was both off the mark and dismissed to the same delivery, as a particularly ambitious call for two was rejected by the assured Rahim, leaving Rafique - turning lethargically and diving ponderously, out of his ground as Hoggard relayed Vaughan's throw from the covers. Mashrafe Mortaza provided one of the worst Test innings of all time as, faced with the pace of Harmison, he backed off to the leg side three times in succession - the first two trips led to the ball sliding inches past off stump, before the third speared into it.
Rahim was eventually removed for a resolute 19 by a textbook outswing delivery from Hoggard that cannoned into the top of off before Shahadat tickled Hoggard through to Jones to finish the innings for a pitiful 108.
In response, Trescothick met Shahadat's first Test delivery - a massive no ball - with a sweetly timed back-foot drive to the cover boundary to initiate his and Andrew Strauss' assault. Shahadat, and to a lesser extent Mashrafe, were unable to control their lengths and the England openers feasted on a buffet of long hops - Strauss taking 18 from one particularly wayward over from the debutant.
Both men made fifties, and their highest scores of the English summer to boot, as England raced to 148 without loss at nigh-on five per over before Mashrafe's honest toil brought its reward. Rafique should have made the first breakthrough, Bashar spilling a regulation chance at slip as Strauss edged having played for non-existent turn. Having been unlucky to see a strong LBW claim against Strauss turned down, a near repeat delivery brought the longed-for wicket as he swung two balls back in to the left-hander before he and Rafique restricted the run-rate before stumps.
Vaughan was fortunate to avoid going the way of his fellow captain when a top-edged hook evaded Shahadat at fine leg and trickled to the boundary. Bangladesh should have made a further incision when Vaughan looped a tame return catch to Rafique. Even so, England reached the close of play 80 runs in the ascendancy with nine wickets intact - with the only questions left being those of timing; that of the eventual declaration, and the victory.
Javed Omar 22, Aftab Ahmed 20
Matthew Hoggard 4-42, Andrew Flintoff 2-22
Marcus Trescothick 78*, Andrew Strauss 69
Mashrafe Mortaza 1-40