Fri, Apr 13, 2007 - Page 22 News List

England tiptoe to an unimpressive victory

PYRRHIC VICTORY Michael Vaughan's side made hard work of overtaking Bangladesh's total of 143 after Monty Panesar and Sajid Mahmood had taken three wickets apiece

AP , BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS

England's Andrew Flintoff is clean bowled by Bangladesh's Mohammad Rafique during the Cricket World Cup match between Bangladesh and England in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

England tiptoed to a nervous four-wicket victory over renowned giantkiller Bangladesh at the cricket World Cup on Wednesday to maintain their chances of reaching the semi-finals.

After bowling Bangladesh out for 143 on the day in Barbados, Michael Vaughan's team collapsed to 110 for six at the Kensington Oval.

Playing cricket as if walking on eggshells, they also went 22 balls without a single run before Paul Collingwood and Paul Nixon dragged the team over the finish line.

Although England could still make it to the semi-finals by beating South Africa and West Indies in their last two Super 8s games, they shows few signs they are capable of winning the title.

England's only victories have been against Canada, Kenya, Ireland and Bangladesh, all teams they should beat comfortably. They have lost against Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

"There are areas of the game that we are going to have to improve upon but we have now had a good look at the ground and the wicket and we will be going into the South Africa game on Tuesday with a little bit more knowledge," Vaughan said.

"But we've got over the line and we've got the two points. The game against South Africa is gearing up like a quarter-final of the World Cup. We are in a position where if we win the last two games we reach the semi-final but our performance will need to improve a little bit from today," he said.

After Vaughan won the toss and decided to bowl first, wickets tumbled regularly with Bangladesh sliding to 65-6 after only 15.2 overs.

Sajid Mahmood and James Anderson took two early wickets each but Habibul Bashar's dismissal had an element of farce.

Vaughan dropped a routine catch off Shahriar Nafees at mid-on. Partly in frustration, however, he flung the ball to wicketkeeper Nixon to find that Bashar had not made it and was run out for four.

Shakib al Hasan halted the slide, however. Mashrafe Mortaza helped him put on 47 for the seventh wicket before spinner Monty Panesar bowled him for the first of his three wickets.

Panesar also removed Mohammad Rafique and Abdur Razzak before Mahmood returned to finish off the innings by getting Syed Rasel, caught by Andrew Flintoff. Mahmood finished with 3-27 and Panesar 3-25.

England quickly lost Ian Bell for nought, however, and, although Vaughan made 30 and Andrew Strauss 23, the course to victory did not run smooth.

Wickets tumbled to the spin bowling of Razzak (2-30) and Rafique (2-33) and England were still 34 runs short with six batsmen out.

Collingwood and Nixon didn't panic but edged their way to the total. Although Nixon hit a six off Rafique in the 40th over, the two batsmen then went 23 more balls before the next run.

Bangladesh couldn't make another breakthrough, however, and Collingwood (23 not out) and Nixon (20 not out) saw England home to victory.

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