England run hot in warm-up

ICC World Twenty20 2009

Luke Wright

Luke Wright hoists the ball into the leg side during his impressive 75 not out at Lord's

England finally settled on their opening partnership to lead them into the ICC World Twenty20 after Luke Wright and Ravi Bopara smashed them to a nine-wicket warm-up victory over West Indies at Lord's.

Since playing their inaugural Twenty20 international against Australia four years ago, England have tried 11 different pairings at the top of the order in 15 matches.

But in their final warm-up match before the start of the tournament on Friday, Wright and Bopara settled any issues with a 119-run stand off only 76 balls to secure a thrashing.

It was a brutal response to West Indies' total of 144 for six, which they passed with 32 balls remaining, and provided the most emphatic signal of intent by an England side growing in confidence and belief that they can challenge in this tournament.

Their display was all the more remarkable because there were doubts whether Sussex all-rounder Wright, who finished unbeaten on 75 from 48 balls, was best suited at the top of the order and if his clean hitting would be better towards the end of the innings.

Those questions were answered in style after Wright overcame eight deliveries without scoring at the start of his innings to hit eight fours and five sixes, including three successive sixes off Kieron Pollard during an over which cost 22.

International Cricket Council regulations state none of the warm-up matches for this tournament are regarded as full internationals, which leaves Wright's 65-run partnership with Phil Mustard in Christchurch last year as England's highest opening stand in a Twenty20 international.

But their dominance over West Indies tonight was so complete that it would be a surprise if Wright and Bopara do not overhaul it during the next few weeks of this tournament.

As Wright struggled for fluency at the start of the innings, Essex all-rounder Bopara was the driving force, hitting Dwayne Bravo for three fours in an over.

Paul Collingwood & Adil Rashid

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid takes the credit from Paul Collingwood on the way to commendable figures of 1-20

But once Wright found his timing he delivered a brilliantly destructive innings, smashing 31 off 11 balls en route to a half-century shortly before his partner.

Bopara, dropped on 29 by Sulieman Benn at midwicket off Bravo, finally holed out in the deep for a brilliant 60 off 35 balls, a setback which only seemed to strengthen Wright's determination to finish the job off as quickly as possible.

Their performances justified England's decision to give them a second successive run-out together rather than look at Kent's Rob Key, who sat out the Scotland match on the previous day.

England's faith was also rewarded in 21-year-old leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who was hammered for 31 runs in only three overs during the six-wicket triumph over Scotland at Trent Bridge, but responded to his inclusion today with a far more impressive display.

Yorkshire's Rashid bowled a leg-side wide when introduced in the seventh over of the innings, but quickly found the right line and length to claim 1-20 from four overs.

Rashid made an impact from an early stage of the game, helping to run out opener Andre Fletcher when he backed up too far in the fifth over.

He built on that success by claiming the key scalp of all-rounder Bravo, caught at long-on trying after becoming frustrated by Rashid's accuracy.

His impressive spell capped another eye-catching display from England in the field as they built up to Friday's opening match of the tournament against Holland at Lord's.

West Indies would have been encouraged by an impressive unbeaten 46 off 34 balls from Ramnaresh Sarwan, who was batting at number six to give other players experience higher the order, which guided them to a respectable total.

Their line-up was also weakened by captain Chris Gayle, their most influential Twenty20 player, sitting out the match to allow Denesh Ramdin to lead the side in his absence, but he was unable to change the fortunes of a side who have lost every completed game against England on this tour.

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