Bopara makes his case
Ravi Bopara dominated England’s run-chase from number three in their World Twenty20 warm-up win over Bangladesh - but knows his chances of retaining that position are slim.
The anticipated return of Kevin Pietersen against South Africa tomorrow means Bopara will have to squeeze in the order elsewhere, if at all, in England’s second practice match.
Bopara marked his return to the fold after a winter out of the England reckoning by hitting 62 off 49 balls as England overhauled Bangladesh’s modest 126 for seven with seven wickets and almost three overs to spare in Barbados.
Michael Yardy had earlier taken 3-20 with his left-arm spin in conditions conducive to the sloer bowlers.
Bopara reflected afterwards on an encouraging performance at the Kensington Oval, where he made his maiden Test hundred last year.
“It’s nice to be back here. I have good memories of Barbados,” the 24-year-old said. “I’m happy to be back and happy with the result as well.
“I was very pleased as well that I was in the top order, batting in the top three. That’s my preferred position.”
As for Pietersen, whose arrival was delayed while he spent some time with his pregnant wife, Bopara accepts the more senior batsman has first call on the number three position.
“Kev’s in some fine form; he played really well in the IPL,” Bopara added. “I guess he does deserve that spot but I hope I’ve put a case forward with today’s knock.”
That leaves a possible position lower down the order, or perhaps opening the innings after Michael Lumb could make just eight on his debut today.
“I’m not sure if it’s been definitely nailed on,” said Bopara. “I think we’ll get more of an idea tomorrow with what sort of team we put out and the batting order.
“As long as I’m playing I don’t mind coming in at four, five or six. I know they are going to be tough positions with (facing) the spinners, but it’s a challenge and I feel confident against spin.”
Opening alongside Craig Kieswetter, with whom Bopara shared a stand of 45 before linking up with captain Paul Collingwood for a further 71 today, would suit him better.
But he is taking nothing for granted. “I wouldn’t jump the gun,” Bopara added. “I’ve done that in the past and it’s bitten me in the backside.
“I want to play but Lumby’s a fine player so I’m sure he’ll be pushing for a spot.”
Bopara was ideally placed to confirm the sure impact of slow bowling on this tournament, which could mean a prominent role for Yardy, who demonstrated how effective his particular brand of left-arm spin can be.
“Spin is going to be a massive part in this competition, the way the pitches are looking,” said Bopara. “In the Test match here, not a single ball turned. It was turning a lot.
“I think there are going to be some dry pitches about and spin is going to be a big issue. Slow bowlers will be key. I don’t think you’re going to see totals of 200 or 180 plus, like in the IPL.
“I think 150s or 160s are going to be winning totals, if you’ve got some good spinners. You’ll be able to defend that.”