Bangladesh aim to prey on England's unease
Monday, March 9, 2015, Adelaide
Start time 14.00 local (03.30 GMT)
After a prolonged period of foreplay, we have reached the business end of the World Cup. For both sides this is, effectively a must-win match.
While England need to win both their two remaining Group A games (the other is against Afghanistan) to have a chance of progressing to the quarter-final, Bangladesh need only one victory.
With Bangladsh's final game coming against New Zealand, this match represents their best chance to ensure qualification. Their captain Mashrafe Mortaza has described it as one of the biggest matches in Bangladesh's history of international cricket. They have never reached the knockout stages of the tournament.
England could win both games and still be eliminated if Bangladesh win that New Zealand contest. It is no exaggeration to suggest that jobs - especially those of the coach and the managing director of England cricket (Peter Moores and Paul Downton) - could be at stake if England fail to reach the quarter-finals. The Ashes were not moved with a view to being eliminated at the same time as Scotland and the UAE.
The days when England could be seen as overwhelming favourites in such contests are gone. Bangladesh have won two of the last three ODI matches between the sides, including their last meeting in the 2011 World Cup.
Bangladesh may well look to exploit a familiar England failing - a weakness against spin - while England look set to continue with a four-man pace attack and demand a fuller length from their bowlers in search of swing.
The pressure of the occasion may prove the biggest factor here, though. In reality, the outcome of this match may go a long way to defining how the sides view the success of their tournament. That England, thrashed by all three Full Member teams they have met in this tournament to date, have seen their expectations sink so low speaks volumes for their current plight.
(Last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
As their greatest international wicket-taker, James Anderson's place in England's history is assured. But the World Cup remains a major stain on his record. In his fourth, and possibly last, tournament he has an average of 42.41 and has claimed just two wickets - both against Scotland. Nine of the 24 wickets he has taken in his 23 World Cup matches came in his first three games, back in 2003. Since then he has an average of 61.33 in 20 World Cup matches. For an England side relying on his ability to make inroads with the new ball, it represents a damaging record of underperformance.
Recently promoted to No. 3, Mahmudullah, has good memories of playing against England. He was part of the unbroken stand of 58 for the ninth wicket that took Bangladesh to victory in the 2011 World Cup match in Chittagong and made his first World Cup half-century in the defeat of Scotland. He is also likely to play a part with his off-spin.
Imrul Kayes, called into the Bangladesh squad in recent days as a replacement for the injured Anamul Haque, could come straight into the side as an opener. Kayes made a half-century when Bangladesh defeated England in the 2011 Word Cup, but has failed to reach double-figures in his last four ODI innings.
Bangladesh are considering exploiting England's poor record as players of spin by including another specialist spinner - the left-armer Arafat Sunny. If Sunny plays, Soumya Sarkar may well retain his place as opener instead of Kayes as he would then fulfil the role of third seamer. Mortaza will play despite an on-going knee problem.
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes/Soumya Sarkar, 3 Mahmudullah, 4 Mushfique Rahim, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Rubel Hossain, 10 Taskin Ahmed 11 Arafat Sunny.
In the immediate aftermath of the defeat against Sri Lanka, it appeared inevitable that England would make changes to their batting and bowling for this game. But as the days have passed, the team management have been increasingly supportive of Gary Ballance and noticeably ambivalent towards his possible replacement, Alex Hales. While it remains possible Hales will win an opportunity, there has been nothing to suggest it in training.
Equally there has been little support for the idea of playing a second offspinner in James Tredwell, with the short boundary likely to provide further disincentive. Ravi Bopara could come into the side for Ballance with James Taylor pushed back to No. 3, but the most likely change is Chris Jordan, as much for his superior batting and fielding, to come into the side as a replacement for Steven Finn. Even that is far from certain, though, with Eoin Morgan remaining a strong supporter of his Middlesex colleague, Finn.
England (probable): 1 Ian Bell, 2 Moeen Ali, 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt.), 6 James Taylor, 7 Jos Buttler (wkt) 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson.
Pitch and conditions
This drop-in pitch was described as "full of runs" by Peter Moores. But, while there is an unusually short boundary towards the west side of the ground - just 54 metres - there has only been one total in excess of 300 here in ODIs here since January 2005. That came when India played Pakistan here at the start of this tournament. Mortaza reasoned that a score of 270-280 should be considered "really good" and, while there is unlikely to be any help in the surface for bowlers of any description, the drop-in pitches here have tended to lack a bit of pace. There are showers forecast for Monday morning - a nightmare for England as a washout would eliminate them - though the forecast for the afternoon is fine and mild.
Stats and trivia
Eight players from Bangladesh's World Cup squad have never played an ODI against England.
England and South Africa have not played against Bangladesh since the 2011 World Cup.
Tamim Iqbal is the only Bangladesh batsman to have an ODI century against England.
Bangladesh's victory over Scotland was the first time they have successfully chased down more than 250 in a World Cup.
England have scored 300 in successive games (against Scotland and Sri Lanka). They have never made 300 in three successive ODIs.
Since the start of the 1996 tournament, England have only won five matches against teams from the top eight of the Test rankings in World Cup matches.
Bangladesh have won two of the last three ODIs between these two nations.
"The Asia Cup final total was very important for us. There were a few matches definitely, but it is one of them. If we can win this match, it will be a great memory for everyone who are involved with this team."
Mashrafe Mortaza agreeing the game is one of the biggest in Bangladesh's history in international cricket.
"International cricket is played by tough men. There's no compromising that and when people come into that environment they have to get used to that. International cricket is about handling pressure."
England coach, Peter Moores.