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Lumb excited by fledgling partnership

ICC World Twenty20 West Indies 2010

Michael Lumb

Michael Lumb, here preparing for today's warm-up game with Bangladesh, is confident in his alliance with Craig Kieswetter

England are investing great hope in their new Twenty20 opening pair, and today will give the first indication as to whether they are on the right track with Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter.

The two international novices will launch England’s innings and have the chance to set the tone for their ICC World Twenty20 campaign in the first warm-up match against Bangladesh today.

Lumb has great belief that he and Kieswetter - England’s 17th opening pair already in the short history of Twenty20 cricket - have the right ingredients.

The two South Africa-born batsmen demonstrated plenty of potential for England Lions in Abu Dhabi two months ago.

There, Lumb struck two boundaries from the last two balls to beat the England first team - and since then, the uncapped 30-year-old has fared well for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

Kieswetter was fast-tracked into England’s one-day international team and, after a century against Bangladesh in Chittagong, ousted Matt Prior as their Twenty20 wicketkeeper-batsman. Lumb can sense the beginning of a successful alliance.

“Craig and I made a partnership out in Dubai and did nicely,” he said. “I’ve known him for a while. He’s a good, aggressive player - and we get on well, which helps.

“We complement each other, left-hand and right-hand. I think it’s a good combination. It’s worked with the Lions. We hope it can work again with England.”

England practised on the 3Ws Oval surface yesterday and Lumb is desperate to get go with the challenge that lies ahead.

“Yes, there’s pressure. But that’s the game - you’ve just got to get on with it,” he added.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I can’t wait now. It’s so nice to get an opportunity, and something I’ve been looking forward to for years.”

In any case, it will take more than being clean bowled on the defence by Graeme Swann for a first-ball duck in a practice match to dent the self-belief Lumb has built up through his recent experience - especially on the subcontinent.

Craig Kieswetter

Kieswetter has enjoyed a meteoric rise with England, peaking with a century against Bangladesh in Chittagong

“The IPL was a good base to come into this - quite intense competition and playing in front of 60,000 noisy people,” he said.

“Playing against some of the world’s best and doing reasonably well means I come here with confidence.”

Lumb and Kieswetter are likely to be joined in the top order at the Kensington Oval by Ravi Bopara at number three, in the absence of Kevin Pietersen - who is expected to be ready for Thursday’s match against South Africa, having arrived in Barbados only yesterday after spending some time with his pregnant wife.

Bangladesh, who played their first warm-up match against Barbados yesterday, are hoping destructive opener Tamim Iqbal’s hand injury will not stop him facing England.

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