Jason Roy is no longer out of sorts. At Trent Bridge against Pakistan he had a bit of a nightmare, dropping a straightforward catch and missing an early sweep. But in Cardiff he was back to his best, hitting 153 from 121 balls, his ninth ODI century, which dictated the outcome of the match that England won by 106 runs. And for good measure Roy held a fine diving catch to break Bangladesh’s best partnership.
Roy’s innings was responsible for the first monumental score of the tournament, 386 for six. Bangladesh chased valiantly with Shakib Al Hasan, who is having a superb tournament, hitting a wonderfully resolute and resourceful century. But a record run chase in World Cup history was way beyond them; that landmark still resides with Ireland in Bengalaru against England in 2011.
So England are relieved to be back on course after a copybook batting display and a competent one from the bowlers, with Jofra Archer outstanding especially in his first spell. Effortless pace dismissed Soumya Sarkar and disturbed the others. Next stop for Morgan’s team is Southampton, where they meet West Indies on Friday. For Bangladesh there was no disgrace in this defeat. They battled hard throughout but were outgunned on a ground where it can be so hard to defend, particularly when the pitch is so conducive to strokeplay.
At the start Roy and Jonny Bairstow demonstrated the virtues of displaying a little more discretion at the start of the innings. Bangladesh adopted the ploy, successful in England’s first two games, of opening with a spinner, Shakib. This time the opening pair tried nothing extravagant against the slow bowler but it would not matter that Shakib yielded only two runs in his first two overs.
Roy was timing the ball sweetly from the start while Bairstow was more tentative and for a while he could not quite hide his edginess. But before long the runs were flowing. Mashrafe Mortaza decided to open the bowling himself alongside Shakib rather than tossing the ball to Mustafizur Rahman, which would have been a more positive option. On this track, which possessed some live grass, early wickets were essential. That grass created pace rather than movement, which would prove appetizing for the batsmen.
Moreover, a strong breeze would prove an impediment in the field. Those who drew the short straw were obliged to run in from the River Taff End with the ominous realisation that a mishit could clear the straight boundary. In fact Mortaza, by taking the obvious course at the toss, had probably done Eoin Morgan and his side a great favour when he decided to bowl first. No one has chased more than 328 in a World Cup match.
The openers had posted 128 inside 20 overs when Bairstow was superbly held at extra cover by Mehidy Hasan at extra cover. Joe Root then supported Roy modestly in a 77-run union before being bowled off the inside edge. His departure may have enhanced the problems of Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, since Jos Buttler was now promoted to No 4.
Roy reached his hundred in 92 balls, his ninth in ODI cricket, and then accelerated. He had time to hit a double hundred but was probably seduced in the 35th over, which was bowled by Hasan, the off-spinner. The problem for Roy was that he hit the first three balls for six, all massive strikes into the wind and into the stands, which were now packed. Now he may have felt duty bound to carry on regardless. Hasan bowled a little wider and quicker and Roy swung. This time the ball spewed in the air and Mortaza at extra cover, like the good desperate captain that he is, made sure that he hung on to a ball that was swirling in the breeze.
But Buttler was still there to torment Mortaza though soon he was limping, which was later revealed to be caused by a hip problem that kept him off the pitch later. Bairstow was an eager, highly competent replacement behind the stumps. With a stream of powerful orthodox drives Buttler struck 64 from 44 balls. He is vital to England’s cause so he will now be anxiously nursed between matches. If necessary he might play without keeping wicket to reduce the strain on his body. Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett cracked 47 in less than four overs at the end to ensure the most formidable of totals.
Archer made Bangladesh’s task even more daunting with his opening spell; Tamim Iqbal never ignited but Mushfiqur Rahim, impish as ever, joined forces with Shakib in a partnership of 133. Mushfiqur’s departure, immediately followed by that of Mohammad Mithun, meant that any English tension now evaporated despite the heroics of Shakib. Adil Rashid, preferred to Moeen Ali at what England considered a one-spinner venue, was responsible for Mithun’s dismissal; as a consequence his confidence flooded back.. This selection was convenient for Moeen, who was not at the ground because of the imminent arrival of his second child, one of the boons of his side hosting the tournament.
Ben Stokes and Archer mopped up the tail without too much bother despite the zing bails failing to fall to the ground once again when tapped by the ball. By then it did not matter and Stokes broke into a broad smile - as did most of the England players at the end of a comfortable victory.