A good day for England in Bangladesh today, during a tour where they have little to gain, and potentially a lot to lose. Defeat to Bangladesh will be seen as disastrous, with a drawn test little better, whereas any excellent performances will forever be seen in the context of “it’s only Bangladesh”.
This does not sum up the reality of a series in which England’s bowling armoury looks rather fragile in terms of injuries, in which their top batsmen is woefully out of form, and in which Bangladesh should look to make big steps forward in terms of consistency.
Pietersen will not necessarily be relishing this series where the opposition have so many spin-bowling resources, including up to three of his current nemesis, the left arm spinner.
Bangladesh, who in recent months have shown that they can play well enough to compete with any team on their day, now need to put these good sessions and days into consistent performances over a test match, without being fazed by the reputation of the opposition.
The first day today went very much England’s way, and Captain Cook should look to making his maiden double hundred during the first session tomorrow. Pietersen seems to have overcome some of his demons with a flowing 99, but he will be disappointed not to have reached the landmark. England are well set for a total in excess of 550, and only an England win should be possible from here.
One surprise was the inclusion of only one spinner in the England lineup, with Tredwell missing out in place of the young fast bowler, Finn. If the pitch turns as much as many in the subcontinent, Pietersen may find himself doing a fair bit of bowling.
The IPL starts today, and now that this is a fixture in the cricketing world, much interest from all around the world will be focussed on it. It will be interesting to see how exciting the competition is this year, and how much it matters to the teams. The competition does give an excellent opportunity for the old guard of cricket to extend their careers, and for younger players to emerge into the spotlight, but can it ever match the excitement of a test match. As recent nailbiting results in South Africa have shown, the five-day form of the game is still the pinnacle in terms of skill and entertainment (at least so long as you have some patience!).