Morgan spearheads clinical England
Eoin Morgan’s unbeaten 62 spearheaded an impressive all-round performance from England as they opened their ICC Champions Trophy campaign with a six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at the Wanderers.
James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graham Onions had initailly helped reduce Sri Lanka to 212 all out, with Anderson and Onions in particular bowling superbly up front after Andrew Strauss had won the toss and asked Sri Lanka to bat.
The pair decimated Sri Lanka’s top order and at one point had them 17 for four thanks to an exhibition of new-ball bowling, with Anderson bowling superbly in producing match figures of 9.3-0-20-3.
Broad captured 2-49 and Onions 2-58 while Thilina Kandamby and Angelo Mathews ground out gutsy half-centuries for Sri Lanka.
In reply, Morgan’s measured half-century was aided by handy contributions from Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah as England coasted to their target with five overs to spare under the lights in Johannesburg.
England’s reply had initially started cautiously as Joe Denly fell for five. The right-hander was undone by a Nuwan Kulasekara delivery that skidded past his forward push and had him rightly adjudged lbw.
Strauss collected his first four with a thin inside edge off Lasith Malinga that skipped to the fence, however he had to go when, on nine and after nailing a pull from Kulasekara, he was astonishingly caught one-handed by Kandamby at mid-wicket.
His departure left England 19 for two and in desperate need of its middle order to fire.
It duly did as Paul Collingwood began by flicking Kulasekara high over square leg for six before following up with two further wristy fours. He then drove Mathews for a superb four through the covers from the next over.
Owais Shah chipped in with his first four - a lofted drive from Ajantha Mendis - while Collingwood continued to seize on any scoring opportunity with a huge pull for six off Malinga inbetween intermittent periods of watchfulness.
With the ball darting around both batsmen took care. Collingwood, however, continued to leap on anything short and again bludgeoned a short Malinga delivery for six.
Having added impetus in taking the score along to 82, he disappointingly fell moments later when jamming down a length delivery onto his stumps from the same bowler. He had scored a serene 46 from 51 balls.
His dismissal forced Shah into the senior role. Morgan took two lucky boundaries from Mendis’ fourth over and continued to chance his arm as he twice edged Muralitharan through the slips for four, passing Shah’s total in the process.
Shah, however, produced a magical whip over forward square-leg to despatch Kulasekara for six as he himself progressed the scoring.
After hitting Muralitharan for four through point Shah was caught behind for a well-made 44, the batsman trudging back after nicking his 74th delivery to Sangakkara while playing a forward push.
Matt Prior commendably found the gaps to support Morgan, indeed the right-hander showed flashes of his pleasingly strokeplay in blazing Muralitharan through sqaure for his first four.
Morgan went to a richly-deserved half-century with a thudding strike over mid-off for four from Kulasekara as England closed in on their target, adding another two fours with cuts that flew to the off-side rope off Malinga.
He finally signalled the victory with a pushed single to get England off to the perfect start in South Africa.
Earlier Onions had immediatley grabbed the initiative for England as he picked up Sanath Jayasuriya for a second-ball duck with a searing leg-cutter that the left-hander nicked to Matt Prior.
Tillakaratne Dilshan departed four balls later to Anderson as he flashed a drive on the up to Morgan at point, the fielder taking a smart low catch.
Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene set about attempting to rebuild. However the latter fell for nine as Anderson deceived him with a full ball that crashed into his pads.
That left Sri Lanka on 17 for three, which became 17 for four moments later as Sangakkara flashed a drive into the hands of Strauss at first slip from a wide, tempting ball from Onions.
Thilan Samaraweera and Kandamby took the attack to England as best they could in the conditions, the former eventually falling for a dogged 30 after being guilty of a lack of foot movement in spooning a full ball to Collingwood in the gully.
Incoming batsman Mathews got going with some handy leg-side boundaries as Kandamby registered his fifth ODI half-century soon after the drinks interval.
England were gifted a wicket when Kandamby’s excellent knock was ended for 53 from 82 balls with a poor run out, Mathews not responding after a dab into the off-side by his partner that resulted in a horrible mix-up.
There was further controversy for Mathews, who collided with Onions as he returned for a second run. Matt Prior whipped off the bails, but after consultation, Strauss decided to recall the Sri Lankan batsman in a show of generosity.
Mathews, however, went to a bright half-century from 69 balls two overs later, the right-hander departing four deliveries later caught behind for 52 after nicking Luke Wright behind. Mathews acknowledged Strauss for his sportsmanship as he left the crease.
Muralitharan’s cameo during the batting powerplay, including a slapped six off Broad over long-on, came to an end for 18 from 10 balls.
Broad eventually sent his off-stump cartwheeling back, repeating the feat to Lasith Malinga first ball. Anderson then finished things off by having Mendis caught by Strauss at slip for five.