Chittagong: England will climb to the top of the one-day international (ODI) cricket world rankings if they can maintain their fine form in the format, all-rounder Ben Stokes said after the side completed a series victory in Bangladesh.
Stokes played a key role with an unbeaten 47 as England won the deciding third match against the hosts in Chittagong on Wednesday to wrap up a third successive one-day series triumph, having beaten Sri Lanka and Pakistan at home earlier this year.
England are currently fifth in the ODI rankings, behind Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India.
“It’s really exciting. If we carry on like this we’ll achieve our target of being world number one,” Stokes, who was named the man of the series, told Sky Sports.
England’s loss to Bangladesh in Adelaide, which knocked them out of the 2015 ODI World Cup, spurred a string of changes to the national team set-up and Stokes felt the squad are starting to yield the dividends of the strategy.
“The team we have had together for the last 18 months have been playing unbelievable cricket,” the 25-year-old added.
With skipper Eoin Morgan sitting out the Bangladesh series over security concerns, wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler was tasked with leading a young and inexperienced squad against a side that had won their six previous home ODI series.
“Me and Jos work quite well. We’re quite aggressive in how we want to play our cricket, not just with the bat and the ball, but with field placings,” Stokes, who was vice-captain for the series, said.
Morgan and influential opening batsman Alex Hales are expected to return to the squad when England travel to India for their next three-match ODI series in January.
Buttler admitted to being “anxious” about captaining the side for their controversial one-day international tour of Bangladesh, before coming away with a thrilling series win.
Security concerns have hung over the series, with the Dhaka cafe massacre casting doubt on whether Bangladesh’s security forces could guarantee the England team’s safety.
But Buttler said the tour had been fantastic so far and praised his players for a gritty performance on Wednesday to defeat Bangladesh by four wickets and clinch the series 2-1.
“I think we showed immense character,” Buttler said after the match that saw England restrict the home side to 277-6 and hit the winning runs with 13 balls to spare.
“I was nervous and anxious a little bit about doing it but I think I enjoyed the role to come away with a series win,” he said of his role as captain.
“I don’t think we can underestimate what we have achieved here. It’s a tough place to come. It’s been a fantastic tour.
“The crowd has been fantastic and we have been looked after brilliantly.
“We are a pretty young and inexperienced team, we will learn a lot from here,” he added.
Sam Billings, playing in his first match of the series, hit 62 while Ben Duckett made 63, his second half-century of the series, to settle England early on in a relatively tough chase.
But two wickets each by Shafiul Islam and skipper Mashrafe Mortaza kept the home side in contention, before Ben Stokes (47 not out) and Chris Woakes (27 not out) took England home comfortably.
Earlier, England leg spinner Adil Rashid engineered a career-best 4-43 to restrict Bangladesh to a modest score, after openers Tamim Iqbal (45) and Imrul Kayes (46) gave the home side a solid start with a 80-run stand.