England move a step closer to series win

ENGLAND once more have dominance against Bangladesh and should, weather permitting, wrap up a 2-0 nPower series win, but there was little about yesterday's play until a dramatic final session that suggested they deserve it. Even then, the nine wickets came from the dismissal of one man, the player of the series, Tamim Iqbal.

Indeed, if Bangladesh could muster one or two batsmen to support the splendid Tamim this game would be heading for parity, if not a slight advantage to the visitors, but once Tamim is out the familiar procession back to the pavilion commences.

It is a dreadful shame because so much of Bangladesh's cricket in the first two sessions was excellent, much better than their 216 all out at the close suggests.

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Their spinners restricted England to a below-par score of 419 and then Tamim launched the visitors' response with his customary verve, scoring at a run a ball with a mixture of drives and cuts through the offside and neat glances and punches through the leg.

He dominated all the England bowlers, whose sole tactic to him seems to be to bowl short. As he raced to a swift half-century and then his second consecutive century, it is time the bowlers have a rethink. Currently, he is their master and with three centuries in the last six matches, must be considered one of the best batters in the world.

But once out, well caught by a diving Matt Prior, the Bangladesh innings stuttered as the run rate dropped from five or more an over to only two runs.

Such was his dominance that when out the score was 169-3 in 33 overs and he scored 108 of them. And this is where others must help him if Bangladesh are to make the most of the occasional dominance in a game they earn. Tamim's innings should have firstly negated any threat of the follow-on and then offered equality, if not a lead. Instead, Graeme Swann rediscovered some of the zip and dip that was missing in the first Test and started to apply pressure on the new batsmen. Swann is a wonderful off-spin bowler but struggles when Tamim attacks him. The field spreads and batsmen collect singles with little risk.

With no easy runs offered and batsmen surrounded by catchers, Swann is a different proposition and he dismissed Jaharul Islam and Shakib-al Hasan with well weighted deliveries. Junnaid Siddique had already succumbed, edging a fine cut to Prior and suddenly the game was all about Swann. He had whipped up a frenzy of expectation with almost every ball and Bangladesh could not break the shackles.

The run-rate dropped from more than five an over to barely two and a big first innings deficit confirmed.

When an innings completely loses momentum, batsmen are forced to take risks to score runs to alleviate the pressure and that is why Mohammad Ashraful slashed at a wide one from debutant Ajmal Shahzad.

It was a poor shot to a poor ball but having suffered in his first spell against Tamim, Shahzad was relieved to get his first Test wicket. His second, soon after, was more like it as a good, quick straight one went through the prod of Mahmudullah. His next ball was even better, an inswinging yorker that Shaiful Islam just squeezed out.

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The only England seamer to impress was Steven Finn, his height and accuracy causing problems and the plan to pick only four bowlers looks flawed against any decent opposition.

Bangladesh, probably through lack of pace options, had a much better balanced bowling attack for the pitch that offered increasing turn and in the morning displayed some real guile as Shakib and Abdur Razzak twirled away with some success. Shakib needs to set better fields and get confident enough to attack new batsmen with close catchers though but his dismissal of Ian Bell, who completed a tidy century was reminiscent of Shane Warne's wonder ball that did for Mike Gatting in 1993. It pitched leg-stump and spun sharply to hit the top of off stump. It was a magic moment followed by a magic innings and still Bangladesh are whipping-boys.