Champions Trophy 2017 | Plunkett and Root guide England to victory in tournament opener

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Champions Trophy 2017 | Plunkett and Root guide England to victory in tournament opener

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SportsCafe Desk


Joe Root (133*) and Alex Hales (95) helped England start their Champions Trophy campaign with a comfortable 8-wicket victory over Bangladesh at the Oval. Earlier, Tamim Iqbal’s 128 appeared to have put Bangladesh in control but Liam Plunkett’s 4/59 restricted the visitors to 305 in 50 overs.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 305/6 (Tamim Iqbal 128, Mushfiqur Rahim 79; Liam Plunkett 4/59, Ben Stokes 1/42) lost to England 308/2 (Joe Root 133*, Alex Hales 95; Mashrafe Mortaza 1/56, Sabbir Rahman 1/13) by 8 wickets.

Starting as favourites of the tournament, England got off to the perfect start by winning the toss and unsurprisingly elected to bowl first to exploit the moisture available in the morning. Eoin Morgan’s team selection also suggested the same as he opted to go with four proper pacers, even if that meant resting the in-form Adil Rashid for Jake Ball. Bangladesh, too, opted to start with an extra seamer, Rubel Hossain, instead of spinner Mehedi Hasan.

England fail to pick up wickets despite favourable conditions

Morgan’s pitch reading skills appeared to be spot on as Chris Woakes opened the bowling with a maiden over and Mark Wood replicated the same in the fourth as the visitors could only manage six runs in the first four overs. Soumya Sarkar released some pressure by hitting Jake Ball for two back-to-back boundaries in the fifth over but that was as good as it got for the Asian team as they could only manage 36 runs in the first powerplay. Having seen out the new ball without losing any wicket, Bangladesh, and Sarkar in particular, took the attack to the Englishmen scoring 16 runs off Ball’s fourth over. On the other hand, Iqbal also settled himself on the crease to set the base for a good total. Sensing the need for a wicket, Morgan brought Ben Stokes into the attack and the all-rounder rewarded his captain dismissing Sarkar in the same over. After having adjusted to the pace of the wicket, Iqbal cleared the fence at will and even went over it, much to the dismay of home fans. That helped Bangladesh to consolidate their position and even though Imrul Kayes threw his wicket away in the twentieth over after miscuing a shot to mid-on, the visitors found themselves at 125/2, with Mushfiqur Rahim partnering Iqbal at the crease.

Plunkett puts the breaks on Bangladesh’s run fest 

Iqbal was looking in complete control as he smashed Plunkett for two consecutive boundaries on either side of the wicket and by the 30th over Bangladesh had crossed the 150-run mark. Having been dismantled by India in the warm-up game, the sub-continental side had learned from their mistakes and decided to to take too many risks as they kept rotating the strike well while putting the bad balls away to the boundaries as well. In the next ten overs, Rahim went past his fifty while Iqbal became the first player to score a century in the current edition of the tournament, taking the score to 223/2 with 10 overs to play. With 300 looking well within reach, Iqbal decided to up the ante as he put the ball in the stands twice in two overs before Rahim scored two boundaries in the next over. But England showed their winning credentials with Plunkett dismissing the duo on back-to-back balls to put the pressure right back on the Bangladesh team. Shakib Al Hasan’s eight-ball cameo was brought to an end by Ball before Plunkett claimed his fourth of the match in the last over to restrict Bangladesh to 305/6 in the allotted 50 overs.

Hales and Root put England in the driver’s seat

With the wind in their sails, Bangladesh did what England failed to do - pick up an early wicket. Jason Roy continued his run drought to yet another match and attempting a scoop off Mashrafe Mortaza’s bowling, he could only find the palms of Mustafizur at short fine leg. His opening partner, Alex Hales, however, was in no mood to slow down as he hit six boundaries in the first 10 overs to take the score to 51/1. After the first powerplay, the English duo slowed down as they began to pace their innings for the long chase. While boundaries were scarce, singles were not and by the 20th over Hales had gone past his half century while Joe Root was three short of his. Realizing that England were getting into a very comfortable position, Mortaza brought Mustafizur back into the attack to exert some pressure on the English but when Shakib Al Hasan was smashed for 15 runs, all the pressure seemed to have been released and the home side found themselves in the comfortable position of needing just 168 runs in the last 25 overs of the match. 

Morgan and Root secure comfortable win for hosts

While most players tend to slow down while closing in on a century, Hales did the exact opposite. Playing at 85, the English opener decided to open his shoulders and pulled Sabbir Rahman for a boundary before launching the ball into the stands on the next delivery. However, it proved to be his undoing as a slog sweep could only get as far as Sunzamul Islam at deep midwicket to bring the curtains down on a fantastic 86-ball 95. As England’s captain walked out to the crease, he knew that most of the job was already done and he along with Joe Root scored 54 runs in between the 30th and the 40th over to keep the required run rate at a comfortable 7.5, on a pitch that was proving to be a batsman’s paradise. Eight overs to go, England found themselves needing 60 off 48 balls with both Root and Morgan two runs short of a century and half century respectively. Not only did both reach their respective milestones in the 43rd over, but the 12 runs in the over ensured the match equation came down to 48 off 42 balls. The next three overs yielded 33 runs that brought the required run rate down to just 4 runs an over. Root finished off the game in style with back-to-back boundaries in the 48th over to secure an eight wicket win for last edition’s runners-up.

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