A Joe Root century ensured England started their ICC Champions Trophy campaign with a win over Bangladesh at The Oval.
The Yorkshireman made an unbeaten 133 to see his team over the line, supported by captain Eoin Morgan scoring 75 not out at the other end, as England won by eight wickets.
Bangladesh looked set to score a mammoth total but were restricted to 305, making the task relatively simple for the in-form England side.
The Oval was bathed in sunshine from the first ball onwards, reflected in the stands as the crowd created a joyous atmosphere in south-east London. There was dancing on the streets outside as Bangladesh supporters entertained all and sundry, creating a carnival spirit.
Inside the ground there was a slow start, as the hosts kept things tight in the opening overs as Bangladesh found their feet against the tournament favourites.
It wasn’t until Jake Ball had Souyma Sarkar dropped when he clipped one straight to Moeen Ali at square-leg, a catch anyone with competent hand-eye coordination would expect to take that things got going. This was one of many moments that brought the Bangladeshis to their feet, waving the green and red flags with vigour in constant celebration of their team’s achievements.
A cuddly tiger was waved in the stands as Tamim Iqbal got his teeth stuck into Ball who was struggling for consistency, allowing the opener to send him for a six and four in quick succession, as the 11th over went for 16, bringing some much-needed momentum to the partnership.
To stem the flow of runs, Eoin Morgan turned to Ben Stokes, who had recovered from his knee injury. The all-rounder earned the first wicket of the match when Souyma tried to play and uppercut over deep point, but only achieved in finding Jonny Bairstow running in from the boundary.
England were hampered by the fact Chris Woakes had to leave the field early on with a side strain, limiting Morgan’s options. Luckily for the skipper two of his bowlers combined to remove Imrul Kayes, as he mishit a Liam Plunkett delivery, forcing Mark Wood to move quickly to his left at mid-on to take an impressive two-handed diving catch, reducing Bangladesh to 95-2 in the 20th over.
Tamim was steady, picking his moments to attack, ensuring he was the pillar on which to build the innings. His pace was not ferocious but he never looked in trouble against the England attack, and he was very willing to be positive when necessary.
The opener built a strong third-wicket partnership with Mushfiqur Rahim as the two looked to post a daunting total for England. Tamim calmly manoeuvred the ball throughout his innings, eventually reaching his century from 124 deliveries much to the satisfaction of a crowd with a healthy proportion screaming in his favour, while Mushfiqur brought force to the innings, as he raised his bat after hitting 51 from 48 balls against an England side lacking ideas.
Ball had little variety and his short of a length efforts were easily dismissed, as Plunkett saved face with four wickets on an average day in the field for England. The runs kept coming and Tamim and Mushfiqur put on 166 for the third wicket until England finally made a breakthrough thanks to the opener sending a short ball high, permitting Jos Buttler to make up the ground and take a simple catch off the bowling of Plunkett, as Tamin departed for 128. He was followed the next ball back to the pavilion by his partner in crime, Mushifiqur, who sent one into the arms of Alex Hales at wide long-on, leaving two men at the crease who hadn’t face a ball.
There was some reward for Ball on had a miserable day, when he normally wouldn’t have bowled his allotted overs had Woakes not departed the field due to injury. The Nottinghamshire seamer picked up the wicket of Shakib Al Hasan as he struck one down Stokes’ throat at long-on.
The timely dismissals of Tamim and Mushifiqur ensured Bangladesh were limited to 305-6, as Plunkett had Sabbir caught at long on in the final over.
Once again Jason Roy failed with the bat; on a flat wicket, the Surrey opener decided after scoring just one run in seven deliveries, he would scoop Mashrafe Bin Mortaza over short fine leg, only for the ball to hit the toe of the bat, allowing Mustafizur Rahman to take the catch above his head.
At the other end, Alex Hales was settling in well, easily going at more than a run a ball to ensure England had a platform to build on as they looked to chase down the total. Both Hales and Joe Root notched half centuries as England kept up with the run-rate without risk their wickets. Hales maintained his healthy scoring rate, aided by a number of boundaries while Root was more than happy to play second fiddle.
Nottinghamshire’s Hales looked to quickly secure a deserved century, striking successive boundaries to move his score onto 95, but the successes went to his head as he hit Sabbir to midwicket going for another lusty blow, leaving him five short of a hundred and England on 165-2.
There was contention when Morgan seemed to be superbly caught by a diving Tamim only to have it overturned upon a review to the third umpire who deemed the ball to have touched the ground, much to the England captain’s relief as it could have been a crucial turning point in the game.
The hosts went into the final ten overs requiring 75 runs, something Morgan set about making light work of when he smashed Shakib way into the stands with a 96metre six, followed by a four. He would eventually bring up his 50 from 42 balls thanks to a shot through point.
Despite spending the majority of his innings limping, Root managed to reach three figures with a clip through square leg, getting to the milestone from 115 deliveries.
Once Morgan and Root got the required rate down to a run-a-ball with five overs to go, the result was never in doubt. England with wickets in hand sent the ball to the boundary repeatedly as they looked to finish the victory to time to spare, eventually winning by eight wickets with 16 balls to spare.