Henry Ford, a revolutionary in the transport industry, once famously said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Heading into the game between England and Bangladesh at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Saturday, there is no better quote to describe the plight of the two teams. For England, the period to wipe the board clean and start all over came right after the shock loss to the same opposition at the last World Cup.
Like Ford said, the three-time World Cup finalists saw the loss as an opportunity to start fresh. A team that until then didn’t fully embrace the one-day game has since played the most entertaining cricket. Despite not reaching a World Cup semi-final since 1992, England came into this tournament as favourites on the back of having reinvented itself into a side that plays a superlative brand of cricket.
Between the 2015 and ’19 World Cups, Eoin Morgan’s side has a better run-rate (6.2) than any other team. In fact, on average, no other team has scored over a run-a-ball in the same period, with Australia second with 5.7 runs per over.
This is an incredible rise for England, who between the previous two World Cups were scoring a run lesser per over. It’s no surprise then that their average score has also increased from 220 to 273. While batting conditions have improved, an increase of 24.1% in their average innings total is an incredible feat.
Even when driving down the best roads, you sometimes face roadblocks. England faced a big one on Monday when they were defeated by Pakistan by 14 runs at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Knowing this English team, they are only likely to look at the surprise loss as an opportunity and not a failure. As the Philadelphia 76ers say, “Trust the process”.
On the other hand, after a plethora of failures since their entry into international cricket in the late 1990s, Bangladesh has only grown from strength to strength since that memorable day at the Adelaide Oval. For long considered minnows, Bangladesh were one of the eight teams that qualified directly for the 2019 World Cup.
Their progress has been so good that they won 34 out of 62 matches between the 2015 and ’19 World Cups. A win percentage of 50+ was once unthinkable for the South Asian team, but that’s not the case any longer. So much so that their win against South Africa on Sunday didn’t qualify as an upset for most observers.
Contrast that to their record before the start of the 2015 World Cup where they had won just 88 matches from 299, and you’ll understand the full extent of the progress that the Bangla Tigers have made under the leadership of Mashrafe Mortaza.
WK-batsmen as important as ever
While there will be a few top cricketers taking the field at the Sophia Gardens, the battle that decides the match could be the one between the wicket-keepers who have been exemplars of their respective teams’ revolutions.
Jos Buttler has been the face of England’s revolution in 50-over cricket. The fact that the Lancashire lad claims five of the 10 fastest ODI centuries by English batsmen is a testimony to that point. And it’s no surprise that Buttler’s form has been directly proportional to England’s growth as a one-day outfit.
Until that game in Adelaide, the wicketkeeper-batsman had an average of 32 and a strike-rate of 111.3. In matches since, he averages 50.5 and has a strike rate of 125.2, with eight of his nine centuries coming in this period.
For Bangladesh, Mushfiqur Rahim has been as important to their emergence as a force to contend with. At the end of the 2015 World Cup, he averaged exactly 30 at a strike rate of 73.4. Since then, he averages 47.9 and has a strike rate of 87.3. While he had just two hundreds in his first 146 ODIs, he has scored four in his last 61.
While Sri Lanka and Afghanistan didn’t find batting easy at the Sophia Gardens, you’d expect a higher scoring match here. There are chances of showers during the game, which is likely to give the captain winning the toss more reason to bat second.
The hosts have a settled line-up; the only change they might make is to bring back Liam Plunkett for Mark Wood, since Plunkett is their bowling anchor and strike force through the middle overs.
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid.
On the back of a couple of impressive performances, Bangladesh are likely to be unchanged for this contest.
Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mustafizur Rahman.