England's great escape

On paper England's victory with 31 balls remaining reads like a comfortable triumph, but the team will know just how close it came to suffering its first ever defeat to Bangladesh. Myles Hodgson reports.

England averted a possible World Cup humiliation by scraping to an unconvincing six-wicket win over Bangladesh. Instead of producing a confident display, it just about managed home after a nervy chase of Bangladesh's modest 143.

It took the composure of Paul Collingwood and Paul Nixon, who shared a stand of 37 runs, to finally see England through with 5.1 overs remaining after it had slipped to 110 for six with left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique claiming two wickets in an over.

Unlike Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, who all cruised to victory against Bangladesh, England almost became its third victim. Bangladesh scored upset victories over India and South Africa.

England looked to have done all the hard work by dismissing Bangladesh for a modest total after it struggled to cope with the extra pace and bounce offered by the pitch. Compared to the slow, low surfaces offered elsewhere in the competition, this one suited the England seamers and they ran through Bangladesh's batting line-up after captain Michael Vaughan won the toss and decided to bowl.

Using short balls as a potent weapon, England reduced Bangladesh to 65 for six and appeared set to dismiss it for the lowest score in the World Cup in a match between two Test nations, beating Pakistan's 74 against England in 1992. But a stubborn 47-run stand between the impressive all-rounder Saqibul Hasan, who top scored with an unbeaten 57, and Mashrafe Mortaza halted the slide and allowed Bangladesh to recover and reach atleast a modest total.

Lancashire seamer Sajid Mahmood had been under pressure for his place after conceding 60 in 9.2 overs during England's defeat to Australia, but he justified his retention by claiming three for 27. His new ball partner Jimmy Anderson grabbed two for 30, while Monty Panesar claimed three for 25, his best one-day figures.

Mahmood could have ended up with better figures but for the farcical sequence of events which led to the run-out of Bangladesh captain Habibal Bashar in his third over. Opener Shahriar Nafees had chipped Mahmood straight to Vaughan at mid-on, but the England captain fumbled the simplest of chances as the batsmen crossed. Unfortunately Bashar had stopped mid-way, assuming the catch had been taken and Vaughan threw the ball to wicketkeeper Nixon in frustration and the run-out was completed with yards to spare.

That was symptomatic of a lacklustre England display in the field which allowed Saqibul to hammer a six and six fours in his unbeaten innings.

England, in reply, looked tentative and tense from the start. Its cause was not helped by Ian Bell, who fell for a duck in the fourth over, while captain Vaughan's struggles with the bat continued despite top scoring with a scratchy 30 off 59 balls.

None of the top order was particularly convincing; Andrew Strauss fell leg before to Rasel playing across the line and Kevin Pietersen chipped a catch to mid-wicket.

It looked like England could at least celebrate Andrew Flintoff's return to form as the all-rounder bludgeoned three fours and a six in his 23 off 21 balls before becoming Rafique's first of two victims in five balls. Trying to play off the back foot, Flintoff was bowled by a quicker one. Ravi Bopara then followed soon, chopping Rafique onto his stumps for a duck.

However, the composure of Collingwood, who finished unbeaten with 23 from 74 balls, and the big hitting of Nixon halted England's slide after it had lost four wickets for 40 runs in 11 overs.

On paper England's victory with 31 balls remaining reads like a comfortable triumph, but the team will know just how close it came to suffering its first ever defeat to Bangladesh.

The Scores

Super Eight: Bangladesh v England. England won by four wickets.

Bangladesh: T. Iqbal c Collingwood b Mahmood 8; S. Nafees c Strauss b Mahmood 9; H. Bashar (run out) 4; M. Rahim b Flintoff 7; S. Hasan (not out) 57; M. Ashraful c Nixon b Anderson 1; Aftab c Nixon b Anderson 10; M. Mortaza b Panesar 13; M. Rafique c Strauss b Panesar 0; A. Razzak c Collingwood b Panesar 15; S. Rasel c Flintoff b Mahmood 4; Extras (lb-3, w-10, nb-2) 15. Total (in 37.2 overs) 143.

Fall of wkts: 1-9, 2-23, 3-26, 4-40, 5-47, 6-65, 7-112, 8-113, 9-137.

England bowling: Anderson 8-0-30-2; Mahmood 8.2-0-27-3; Flintoff 8-0-38-1; Panesar 7-2-25-3; Collingwood 4-0-14-0; Bopara 2-0-6-0.

England: I. Bell c Aftab b Rasel 0; M. Vaughan c Bashar b Razzak 30; A. Strauss lbw b Rasel 23; K. Pietersen c (sub) b Razzak 10; P. Collingwood (not out) 23; A. Flintoff b Rafique 23; R. Bopara b Rafique 0; P. Nixon (not out) 20; Extras (b-4, lb-8, w-6) 18. Total (for six wkts., in 44.5 overs) 147.

Fall of wkts: 1-7, 2-48, 3-70, 4-79, 5-110, 6-110.

Bangladesh bowling: Mortaza 8.5-3-28-0; Rasel 10-3-25-2; Razzak 10-1-30-2; Rafique 10-3-33-2; Hasan 6-0-19-0.

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