Balance the key for England in Bangladesh finale

Updated: 03 June 2010 18:14 IST

England face a selection dilemma ahead of the final Test against Bangladesh starting on Friday.

Balance the key for England in Bangladesh finale

Manchester:

England, unusually for a side that has just won a match by eight wickets, face a selection dilemma ahead of the second and final Test against Bangladesh starting here on Friday.

Pace bowler Tim Bresnan suffered a stress fracture of his left foot during England's comprehensive victory at Lord's, concluded on Monday, and has been ruled out, meaning England must change a winning team.

England's general preference in recent times has been to go with six batsmen and four bowlers.

If they stick with that policy World Twenty20 winner Ryan Sidebottom, now at Nottinghamshire, and the uncapped Ajmal Shahzad, an unused member of England's squad in the Caribbean, face a shoot-out to replace their fellow Yorkshireman.

But there were times when, with the old ball and the sun out, England's four-man attack looked laboured at Lord's, even though fast bowler Steven Finn took nine wickets on his home debut.

That may encourage England to field a five-man attack and dispense with a batsman, in which case Ian Bell's place may be under threat.

However, England coach Andy Flower said during the Lord's Test: "I don't think the number of bowlers is the issue.

"I think the way we bowled is the issue. I think the bowlers themselves would acknowledge they have not performed as they would have liked."

Shahzad, unlike Sidebottom, was in the original 12-man squad at Lord's and so appears to be in pole position for a call now Bresnan is unavailable.

A lively pace bowler, the 24-year-old Shahzad, the first British-born Asian to play for Yorkshire, is sure to enjoy an Old Trafford pitch that usually has more bounce and carry than the one at Lord's if given the chance.

Although his international experience is limited to a solitary Twenty20 international, Shahzad does not lack for self-confidence and is eager for a a Test debut.

"I hope I can make my debut on Friday," he told reporters here on Wednesday. "I have been back at Yorkshire and got a few overs under my belt, 29 of them in fact, and I am looking forward to it.

"I think I am ready to go if I get the nod and make my debut. I am desperate to be involved and I just want to play cricket."

But Sidebottom, the only left-arm quick in the squad, does have the advantage of a different angle of attack.

England's first innings total of 505 at Lord's was built upon Jonathan Trott's 226, a score which realised one of captain Andrew Strauss's ongoing targets for the team that batsmen should make big hundreds.

The skipper himself returned to international cricket with two scores in the 80s and will be keen to carry that form with him to Manchester.

Although this latest defeat meant Bangladesh have lost all seven of their Tests with England, there were encouraging signs for the Tigers in the performance of the top order, notably opener Tamim Iqbal's dynamic century and in a five-wicket return for fast bowler Shahadat Hossain.

Bangladesh's overall Test record now stands at just three wins from 67 Tests but the pitch at Old Trafford also has a reputation for taking turn.

Bangladesh have several spinners in their side, although England off-break bowler Graeme Swann will want the pitch to stay true to form too.

An optimistic Tamim said on Wednesday: "Our main strength in bowling is spin, and there was nothing in the wicket at Lord's.

"So we hope Old Trafford will be better for us.

"We have (captain) Shakib (Al Hasan) -- who is one of the best in the world -- and if he bowls well we can do better."

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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