Strategy Analysis: England v Bangladesh

CricViz analyst Patrick Noone outlines how England should target Bangladesh’s key players. 

England begin their Champions Trophy campaign against Bangladesh on Thursday in a match that many expect them to win comfortably. The hosts are rightly favourites, but they will have seen enough of them over the winter to know that this is not a side to be taken lightly.

Using CricViz and ball tracking data, we have assessed the strengths and weaknesses of some of Bangladesh’s players to give a clearer picture of the matchups we are likely to see at the Oval on Thursday.

Tamim Iqbal

The big hitting opener has history against England – it was during the Test series on these shores in 2010 that he announced himself on the world stage with back-to-back hundreds at Lord’s and Old Trafford. In the shorter form, he has only one hundred from 12 innings against Thursday’s opponents, but his strike rate of 90.21 (higher than against any other major nation) shows that England will need to be wary of Tamim getting Bangladesh off to a fast start.

So how can England stop Tamim? Ball tracking shows that he has a weakness against balls pitched on an ‘in-between length’ – that is, balls pitching between eight and nine metres from his stumps – that England can look to exploit with their new ball bowlers.

Chris Woakes, if fit, could be an ideal candidate to pick up Tamim’s wicket as his natural length is where the left-hander struggles to score quickly; his strike rate against balls from seamers at that length is just 70.

With this in mind, England would do well to hold back Liam Plunkett as his naturally shorter length could play into Tamim’s hands. In fact, against short pitched bowling from seamers, Tamim strikes at a more than healthy 112.

Conclusion: England’s opening bowlers can limit Tamim’s scoring ability by bowling reasonably full and attacking the stumps – he is out bowled or LBW in 20% of his ODI innings.

Shakib Al-Hasan

As the number one ranked all rounder in all three formats, Shakib is an obvious star in the Bangladesh XI. His canny left-arm spin bowling and middle order hitting have been an almost permanent fixture of the Bangladesh side for the last decade.

In 79 of his 173 ODI’s, Shakib has been asked to bowl in the powerplay and with an economy rate of just 4.09 at that stage, it is clear to see why. He is even more miserly against right-handers, conceding just 3.92 runs per over. With England likely to field a top three of Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Joe Root, Shakib could well be tempted to bowl himself in the first ten overs once again.

With the bat, Shakib is a dangerous player at the death, with a strike rate of 129 but he is far more circumspect in the middle overs with a strike rate of just 79. These figures are fairly consistent against both seam and spin bowling but one potential area of weakness is his propensity to nick off.

Against right-arm seam bowlers from over the wicket, Shakib has been dismissed 39 times and 16 of those have been from outside edges. Exactly one quarter of the times he has been out ‘caught’ in an ODI innings have been by the wicket-keeper; an unusually high percentage in the format, reinforcing the idea that tempting him into a drive outside his off stump could be the best tactic against him.

Conclusion: England should target other bowlers to score quickly against in the powerplay and when he is batting, instruct the seamers to bowl across him to draw the outside edge.

Mushfiqur Rahim

England will know all about Bangladesh’s diminutive wicket-keeper batsman after his 77-ball 89 dealt a key blow in the famous World Cup match at the Adelaide Oval in 2015. Mushfiqur also hit an unbeaten 67 the last time the two sides met in Chittagong, though on that occasion it was not enough to avoid defeat.

His career strike rate in ODI’s is a fraction below 77 but against off-spinners, that rises to 87. England would therefore be well advised to take Moeen Ali out of the firing line against him to keep the scoring rate in check.

A better tactic against Mushfiqur would appear to be bringing on the seam bowlers and asking them to bowl full. Ball tracking shows that against balls pitching between four and six metres from his stumps, Mushfiqur bats at a strike rate of just 46 and is dismissed more from balls pitching that length than any other.

This theory is backed up when we look at his footwork across his career as our data shows that he has been dismissed 64 times on the front foot compared with just 21 times on the back foot, implying that he is weaker against full-pitched bowling.

Conclusion: England should ensure Mushfiqur faces as many balls from seamers as possible and should instruct them to bowl as full as possible.

Mustafizur Rahman

Since coming into the side in 2015, Mustafizur has been the undisputed golden boy of Bangladesh cricket. At just 21, the left-arm seamer’s subtle variations have deceived batsmen from all over the world and already seen him star in a World T20 and win an IPL title with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016.

64% of all balls that Mustafizur bowls in ODI cricket are slower balls (less than 130km/h), a feature of his game that presents a unique challenge to opening batsmen. It is something that Jason Roy in particular might struggle with, given his record against left-arm seamers. He has been dismissed nine times by them in the past and on five of those occasions, he was out to balls recorded at 137km/h or slower, suggesting that he is happier with pace on the ball than off it.

Mustafizur also varies his line effectively to right-handers, with an even split of his deliveries pitching on the stumps, in the channel outside off stump and wide outside off stump. Despite his change of angle, his economy rate remains consistently between four and five runs per over for each of the three lines of attack. However, when he pitches the ball outside leg stump, that figure jumps to more than six runs per over.

Conclusion: England’s right-handers should primarily try to score on the leg side against Mustafizur while always being wary of the slower ball.

Patrick Noone is an Analyst at CricViz

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CricViz is the official analytics supplier for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy – we will be providing on-screen analysis throughout the tournament. Download the free CricViz app for iOS and Android here for live coverage of the Champions Trophy. 

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