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We won't let fiery Tigers wind us up, vows Liam

 

Fully focused: England trio Liam Plunkett, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes survey Sophia Gardens
Fully focused: England trio Liam Plunkett, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes survey Sophia Gardens

By Rory Dollard

Liam Plunkett is set to return to England's World Cup side against Bangladesh and will be fully prepared if the contest descends into another "niggly" encounter.

England's defeat to Pakistan on Monday was notable not just for a sizeable reversal of the form book, but also for the fractious nature of the contest.

Jason Roy and Jofra Archer were both fined for their on-field conduct - the former for swearing in the field, the latter for his reaction to a wide call - while the mild-mannered Chris Woakes felt compelled to 'shhh' a particularly vocal section of a split crowd after taking a catch on the boundary.

England would not like to admit they were needled by Pakistan's verbals but are wary that Bangladesh have previous form for similar, specifically during an ill-tempered 2016 defeat in Dhaka.

At 34, Plunkett is the elder statesman of the squad, and his calm head should prove a useful addition for his expected recall at Sophia Gardens tomorrow.

"Pakistan are pretty good like that, they can get niggly. When they're on top they're good at doing it," he said.

"Similarly, Bangladesh and India, they're good at doing that, good at appealing quite a lot.

"But we've played in big competitions, guys have played around the world - at IPL and Big Bash in front of big crowds - it shouldn't be too much for the players.

"It's just about getting involved in that game, involved in the competition, taking out the crowd and the other team to just try and do your job.

"I am not that emotional in terms of bowling wides and getting hit for boundaries, you can't do much about it."

Regardless of the circumstances, England will be expected to beat Bangladesh. They have lost only four times in 20 one-day internationals between the sides, including the killer blow at the 2015 World Cup, and once in seven on home soil.

A second defeat in a row would undermine their status as tournament favourites, but Plunkett insisted Bangladesh are no longer the rank outsiders they were once seen as at global tournaments.

"There's no real shock defeats in this competition. We've already seen Bangladesh beat South Africa and that's not a shock defeat," he said.

"They're a strong squad. I remember when they beat England way back when (in Bristol, 2010) and it was a shock defeat.

"I don't think them beating teams like South Africa is like that anymore."

Plunkett was dropped for the Pakistan match despite a solid two-wicket outing in England's win over the Proteas and his ability to make things happen in the periods where batsmen typically take fewer risks was missed.

Having stepped into his shoes for that game, Mark Wood declared Plunkett was "still the main man" and it seems unlikely the Surrey seamer will sit out for a second game in a row.

Woakes or Wood could make way, but England have in the past viewed Cardiff as a one-spinner venue, raising questions over Adil Rashid's place.

He bowled five expensive overs against Pakistan and might be asked to stand down unless the pitch looks particularly slow.

"I will do everything I can to play," said Plunkett.

"You are always disappointed when you don't get selected. But I took it on the chin and I'll try to do something in the days leading up to this game to get picked again."

Meanwhile, Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower believes that their World Cup victory over England has lifted a "huge weight" ahead of today's clash against Sri Lanka.

Heading into the tournament in poor form, Pakistan then suffered a dismal seven-wicket defeat to West Indies in their opening match after being bowled out for 105.

But after responding in style with a 14-run upset win over England in which they scored 348 for eight, the 1992 champions are now looking to build on that morale-boosting triumph when they take on Sri Lanka in Bristol.

"I definitely do sense quite a bit of confidence," said former Zimbabwe all-rounder Flower.

"Since we have won, it took off a lot of the pressure, having gone through those string of defeats.

"Psychologically, that lifts a huge weight from their shoulders, and to score 350 against a very good England attack, the guys are relieved.

"The guys showed their proper skills and it was a true test of character. They came through with flying colours in the second game."

Belfast Telegraph

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