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Two in two as England fight back against Bangladesh in Champions Trophy opener

LONDON: Tamim Iqbal drove Bangladesh past 200 with a sure-footed century which saw the hosts struggling to get wickets in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 opener at The Oval on Thursday.

England were handed their first breakthrough by all-rounder Ben Stokes who broke Bangladesh’s opening stand at 56-1 with Soumya Sarkar’s wicket.

Liam Plunkett claimed Imrul Kayes’ wicket next, reducing Bangladesh to 95-2.

But the tourists were stabilised by some power-hitting from Tamim, who was helped along by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim.

Bangladesh started off cautiously against the hosts’ bowling attack, after England won the toss and asked Mashrafe Mortaza’s side to bat first.

Sarkar was given a new life earlier when Moeen Ali dropped a sitter off Jake Ball’s delivery.

England have been transformed since their dismal World Cup performance two years ago, with their power batting making them even more formidable in their own conditions.

But a determined Bangladesh, after an absence of more than 10 years, have made a welcome return to the Champions Trophy ranked sixth, above both Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Both teams feature several survivors from Bangladesh´s 15-run shock win at Adelaide which condemned England to a woeful first-round exit from the last World Cup.

It was a result that led England to completely revamp their approach to the white-ball game.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza, although accepting England were a far better side than the one his team knocked out of the 2015 World Cup, insisted the Tigers had improved too ahead of their Champions Trophy opener.

“We just recently beat New Zealand in Ireland,” Mortaza told reporters at The Oval on Wednesday.

It was some encouragement for Bangladesh after a 2016/17 tour of New Zealand where they were beaten in all formats.

“We couldn´t win any matches, but the thing is, we played really good cricket,” said Mortaza. “It´s just we couldn´t finish well, that´s it.”

Mortaza, also Bangladesh´s captain in Adelaide, played down the significance of that result by telling reporters at the Oval on Wednesday: “Look, it was a long time back. And after then, England is a totally different team. The way they are playing, if you look at the last two years, their performance, they win almost everything. And especially at home, they are a serious side.

“But we know that we are also a better side; that we are a very improving side,” he added.

“We have some exciting youngsters like Mustafizur and Sabbir Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, those players are also in our side.”

Bangladesh were shot out for 84 by Champions Trophy title-holders India at The Oval on Tuesday in a crushing warm-up defeat.

England´s only global one-day title came at the World Twenty20 in 2010 and they lost the 2013 Champions Trophy final to India at Edgbaston in a game reduced to 20 overs per side.

With a powerful batting lineup, including pugnacious openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales, Test captain Joe Root, Morgan, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, England usually score their runs rapidly.

The hosts, however, faced a hiccup when they lost spectacularly against South Africa in the third and final ODI of the recently-concluded series, slumping to 20 for six in tough conditions on the way to defeat at Lord´s.

“It´s a lesson with the bat and ball – our bowlers to be disciplined and to our batsman that, sometimes, you have to sit in,” Morgan said

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