England were “desperately disappointed” after a frustrating and bad-tempered night in Chittagong ended in a shock defeat against Bangladesh.
They must contemplate a week of worry before their final chance to earn a World Cup quarter-final place when they take on the West Indies next Thursday.
The first task, however, will be to restore morale after allowing an obvious winning opportunity to slip from their dewy grasp as Mahmudullah and Shafiul Islam scrambled past their target of 225 in an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 58.
It all proved too much at one stage for Graeme Swann, who was unable to hold the drenched ball – let alone impart any off-spin.
He lost his temper and was heard to swear after one exchange with umpire Daryl Harper, forcing Andrew Strauss to intervene.
The England captain was unable to deploy Swann when he wanted, because of the dew effect at a venue hosting its first day-night match.
“There was a 20-over period where it was very, very bad,” said Strauss. “Graeme Swann couldn’t grip the ball at all.
“I think there’s something not quite right if a spinner can’t grip the ball in this part of the world, where spin plays such an important role.
“That was hard work for us, but it wasn’t the reason we lost the game.”
As for Swann’s behaviour – one television commentator had to apologise for the language used – Strauss added: “Graeme was obviously very frustrated, because the dew meant he couldn’t grip the ball.
“He felt he had a big role to play in the game, and for a period there we had to take him off until later on when he could grip it.
“It was frustrating for him, and all of us, that the ball got as wet as it did. But those are the conditions we encountered.
“I think Graeme was asking to change the ball. I wasn’t there so didn’t hear what was said between the two of them.
“But once the exchange happened I told Graeme to calm down and get on with it – and he did do so.”
Strauss and England must leave it up to International Cricket Council match referee Jeff Crowe to decide whether disciplinary action is in order.
England were aware the ball would get wet after nightfall, having practised here under lights this week.
“We knew it was going to dew up,” said Strauss. “Obviously that was a big consideration at the toss for both sides.
“The spinner in particular struggled to bowl with it, and the dew
makes reverse-swing a lot harder as well.
“It seems slightly strange to have the first ever day-nighter at a certain ground in a World Cup. So perhaps lessons can be learned there.”
Lessons may also be learned by England, who managed what Strauss felt was just a “par” score on the back of half-centuries from Jonathan Trott (67) and Eoin Morgan (63).
Imrul Kayes (60) then underpinned the chase until he ran himself out, and left plenty of hard work for the tail after Yorkshire’s Ajmal Shahzad (3-43) helped England take four wickets for 15 runs.
“I think losing three wickets early with the bat certainly didn’t help us,” added Strauss. “It was a pretty slow, low, stodgy wicket – and we needed wickets in hand to get up to 240 or 250, which would have been a very good score.
“Eoin Morgan played exceptionally well, and obviously Jonathan Trott stuck in there.
“We felt it was a par score, that we could defend it, and we got ourselves in a great position to do that.
“But in the end we weren’t able to take those last two wickets, which is desperately disappointing for us.
“We thought we were in a great position to win it. Ajmal was ‘reversing’ it a little bit, and bowled a really good spell there.
“You expect to win games from that circumstance. But that is one-day cricket. Fair play to the guys at the end there – they played very well and got Bangladesh over the line in an important game of cricket.”
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, who chose to bat first, said of his team’s second one-day international victory over England: “There was no luck – it’s only hard work.
“When they put 225 runs on the board we thought we had a very good chance – because we knew there would be dew and we knew it would be hard for them to bowl in such conditions. There were some silly mistakes, like two run-outs, that could have cost us the game. Luckily they didn’t.”