Cook steers England to win against B'desh with century
DHAKA: England have won the series 2-0, taking the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium today by nine wickets with 10 overs to spare, and he has made a Test hundred in each match to help England on their way.
He might not have persuaded many people that he is a natural Test captain, but he has led with affability, the experience has undoubtedly been good for him and has encouraged him towards a new maturity. He has batted with zest in one-day cricket to suggest that more caps might lie ahead, and his Test game on the sub-continent, not for the first time, looks in good order.
He rounded things off today with his 12th Test hundred by the age of 25, an impressive tally. It was a measured and increasingly relaxed affair, completed when he hacked a wide, low-bouncing off-spinner from Naeem Islam to the cover boundary. He then swept Mahmadullah for the winning hit, finishing with 109 not out in 156 balls. With reason to relax at last, he could not stop smiling.
After four days of grind, England found a target of 209 in 54 overs a breeze, their fears of a final-day minefield entirely unfounded; Dr Tredwell's platelets never broke up as predicted. Kevin Pietersen, who now jets off to join Bangalore Royal Challengers in the IPL, batted with panache for an unbeaten 74 from 79 balls, practised a few switch hits for good measure, and Bangladesh's bowlers soon looked defeatist in his presence.
Bangladesh deserved sympathy. They have suffered two more Test defeats, their record now reading as 57 losses and three wins in 66 Tests. But England have not impatiently brushed them aside, nor beaten them with much panache, but have needed resilience to come out on top.
Bangladesh's batting, in their own conditions at least, has commanded respect. They have forced both Tests into the final day, which justifies talk of progress, even on unresponsive surfaces designed to make the game last. Whether they will be capable of the same in England in early summer is debatable.
Even as England headed for victory, the Test continued its sport with Jonathan Trott. He was freakishly bowled off pad and elbow in the first innings, dropped one of the simplest catches imaginable at backward point in Bangladesh's second innings to reprieve Tamim Iqbal, and today he stormed off, banging his bat on the ground in frustration after a debatable run out decision by the television umpire Nadir Shah.
Cook's appetite for a single to cover left Trott in danger the moment Jahurul Islam pulled off a good diving stop, but the throw was slightly wide. Trott seemed to have survived by a single frame by the time Mushfiqur Rahim broke the stumps, and received a thumbs-up signal from the England dressing room to tell him as much.
Because neither of the two video stills was conclusive, a not out decision seemed inevitable, only for Shah to extrapolate an extra frame from the evidence available in which he imagined that Trott was short of his ground and to press the red button on that basis. Nobody could remember when a television umpire had made a decision based not on video evidence, but on an arithmetical calculation based upon it.
Trott, an intense soul, is unlikely to sleep until he has pored over the ICC regulations to discover if he has been wronged. As his dismissal brought in Pietersen, England might view it all as serendipitous.
Shakib Al Hasan has been a redoubtable captain for Bangladesh in this series; strong willed and bearing a heavy workload with bat and ball. He has also found time for one or two battles with his board. But the pivotal moment in Bangladesh's defeat was his dismissal for 96, stumped off a James Tredwell slower delivery which tempted him into a failed attempt to bring up his century with a straight six.
After failing to regain his ground, Shakib lay outstretched in the dirt, head resting on his gloves. He was the last man out and, if he batted another half-hour and added another 25 runs, he might have put the target beyond England's reach. It would only have taken a blip or two for them to call off the chase and settle for a 1-0 series win.
From a perilous position overnight — 172-6, a lead of only 95 — Bangladesh put up productive resistance, with Shakib at the heart of their resistance. By the time he fell in the first full over of the afternoon, they had added another 113.
It was an unnerving start for England, who conceded 54 runs in 45 minutes before the second new ball and when that new ball came Cook opted for a combination of pace, in the figure of Stuart Broad, and spin, not his senior bowler, Graeme Swann, but Tredwell.
Tredwell, whose figures had suffered from dropped catches on the previous day, took three of the last four wickets to fall. Trott, who had almost pulled off a wonderful diving catch in the deep to dismiss Shakib, held a simpler catch to dismiss Shafiul Islam and Naeem Islam hauled Tredwell to deep mid-on. Both Swann and Tredwell finished with six wickets each and Tredwell could take satisfaction from a solid debut.