Cardiff: England will face the side who kick-started their transformation into a major threat in one-day internationals when the tournament hosts continue their World Cup campaign against Bangladesh in Cardiff on Saturday. The Tigers condemned Eoin Morgan’s men to a first-round exit at the 2015 edition with a 15-run victory in Adelaide.
At that point there was no longer any way of hiding England’s white-ball woes and, with a home World Cup up next, then England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss was determined the national side’s limited overs form had to improve. To that end, Peter Moores was sacked as coach, with Strauss bringing in experienced Australian Trevor Bayliss as his replacement.
Since that debacle ‘Down Under’, England have risen to to the top of the one-day international rankings. But having started their quest to win a first men’s World Cup with a 104-run thrashing of South Africa at the Oval, they head into this weekend’s clash on the back of a surprise 14-run defeat by Pakistan. That match saw England lose their cool, with opening batsman Jason Roy and fast bowler Jofra Archer both fined for lapses in their conduct on the field. Meanwhile if England were annoyed by some of Pakistan’s ‘verbals’, there were times when the large contingent of fans for the sub-continental side — a common sight even when England are at home — also had an effect.
England all-rounder Chris Woakes, usually the most mild-mannered of cricketers, put his finger to his lips in a bid to ‘silence’ Pakistan supporters after taking a catch on the boundary. It could well be a similar story at Sophia Gardens on Saturday, particularly as several players on both sides who featured in England’s ill-tempered 2016 win over Bangladesh in Dhaka are likely to be involved again. England fast bowler Liam Plunkett, who could be recalled after missing the Pakistan defeat, said his team-mates knew how to maintain their composure.
A sporty track awaits in Cardiff. 250 looks par on this ground. The team winning the toss would ideally like to bowl first, especially in overcast conditions. However, batting first won’t be a bad option either, since the track would hardly change in the second innings.