England wear crown with style
World champions England made an emphatic return to the Twenty20 format with a five-wicket victory over Pakistan in the opening NatWest International T20.
Captain Paul Collingwood was delighted with a “100%” performance which owed much to an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 67 between Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy, to aid the recovery from a mid-innings wobble in reply to 126 for four at the SWALEC Stadium.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Collingwood. “Our strategies seem to be working in the Twenty20 form of the game.
“It has been a tough week. But the guys focused 100% on their cricket, and we enjoyed our win today.
“We got our teeth right into it. The bowlers were absolutely fantastic again. We had a little hiccup with the bat, but ‘Morgs’ and ‘Yards’ put together a superb partnership.”
It is almost four months since England beat the world for the first time in an International Cricket Council tournament, with victory over Australia in the World Twenty20 final.
They were up against significant, if perhaps distracted, opponents in Pakistan - who have had to contend with the ICC suspension and charging of three of their players charged with breaching the Anti-Corruption Code.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said: “At one time, it looked like we were going to win this game. But the way Morgan and Yardy played, they did very well.”
Even so, Afridi believes his own team did themselves justice.
“The way my boys played, I am very happy. We missed some opportunities, like catches and run-outs.
“So next time I hope we will avail these opportunities. In this kind of cricket, fielding is a main weapon if you want to win.
“We have to play cricket. We don’t take these things with us (on to the field).
“After what has been going on for a week or 10 days, it’s been very difficult.
“But this is my job and the coach’s job, to lift the morale and keep the guys in high spirits.”
Collingwood’s pleasure was simply at a task completed with little fuss.
“It’s been a few months since some very fond memories and that success in the Caribbean.
“I didn’t have to say anything (today). You just look at each other, and those smiles go on your faces.
“We’ve got great memories of that. But from a captain’s point of view you’ve got to try to tell the guys to restart. And we did it 100%.”