The two of them sat out of their team’s World Cup 2015 warm-up game on Monday (February 9) against West Indies in Sydney, but a young pace attack, led by Chris Woakes, raised hopes with a quality display.
England, asked to field after losing the toss, bowled West Indies out for 122 in 29.3 overs with Woakes bagging 5 for 19 from 7.3 overs and Steven Finn returning 2 for 34. The batsmen then made little fuss in getting past the target, surging to 125 for 1 from 22.5 overs.
Not far from the SCG, Bangladesh put on a good show with the bat but Mohammad Irfan’s five-wicket haul and Sohaib Maqsood’s unbeaten 93 set up a three-wicket win for Pakistan in its first warm-up tie.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Bangladesh shook off a shaky start to reach 246 in 49.5 overs withTamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah scoring 81 and 83 respectively. In response, Pakistan too showed signs of rust early on but held it together to get to 247 for 7 from 48.1 overs.
England and West Indies needed to get their acts in place going into the marquee event, starting on February 14, and this warm-up fixture was the best platform to do so.
England came into the tie having suffered a 112-run loss in the hands of Australia in the final of the triangular series and West Indies was looking to regroup following a 4-1 defeat to South Africa in their five-match One-Day International series. While West Indies came away with little on the plus side, England had plenty of positives to look at going forward.
At the start, it was Woakes and his opening spell – he was on a hat-trick in the first over of the game itself when he sent back Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo. The hat-trick didn’t come, but Woakes accounted for Dwayne Smith a few overs later. With the top order back in the hut, West Indies needed a responsible showing from their middle order, but barring Lendl Simmons (45), no one made the opportunity for batting practice count.
England’s bowlers were beneficiaries of poor shot selection from a number of West Indies batsmen, but the discipline the bowlers showed from start to finish was a good sign, and augurs well with one more warm-up tie – against Pakistan on February 11 – to come before England takes on Australia in its opening World Cup tie on February 14 in Melbourne.
From West Indies’ point of view, the way Jason Holder troubled Ian Bell and Moeen Ali, the England openers, with his bounce was among the few promising signs. Holder, Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach were expensive but they were effective when they managed to land it in the right areas. Unfortunately for West Indies, those occasions were too few and far between. Moeen scored a chance-ridden 46, while Bell looked composed en route to his unbeaten 35, and James Taylor scored 25 not out.
West Indies next faces Scotland on February 12 before its opening World Cup tie against Ireland on February 16 at Saxton Oval.
At Blacktown Olympic Park Oval, a 168-run third-wicket partnership between Iqbal and Mahmudullah stabilised the innings for Bangladesh. But once they fell, Bangladesh lost the next eight wickets for a mere 62 runs with only Shakib Al Hasan putting up a fight with a 30-ball 31. Irfan returned figures of 5 for 52 from 9.5 overs while Yasir Shah bagged two wickets.
The win would have come as relief for Pakistan, which hasn’t had the best run in the 50-over format in recent times. Maqsood’s 90-ball innings also bodes well for the side, but there was some bad news for Pakistan as Sohail Khan, the medium pacer, was sidelined with a calf problem after bowling just six overs.