Morgan Steers England To Impressive Victory

Morgan Steers England To Impressive Victory
Morgan Steers England To Impressive Victory
©Action Images / Paul Childs

England 213-4 (Morgan 62no) beat
Sri Lanka 212 (Kandamby 53, Mathews 52) by six wickets

ICC Champions Trophy Group B, Johannesburg

Eoin Morgan marshalled an impressive run chase that garnered England a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their Champions Trophy Group B opener at The Wanderers.

Sri Lanka's lower order helped them recover from 17 for four to reach 212 all out but Morgan's composed 62 not out helped his side get past their target in 45 overs despite an early wobble of their own.

When Andrew Strauss (9) and Joe Denly (5) fell early, Sri Lanka were in the game, Strauss brilliantly caught by Thilina Kandamby at midwicket and Denly trapped in front, both men falling to Nuwan Kulasekara.

However, England calmly rebuilt, much in the same way that Sri Lanka had been forced to earlier, but with wickets in hand, they then accelerated to get themselves ahead of the required run rate, from which point they were hardly challenged.

Owais Shah dropped anchor, allowing Paul Collingwood and Morgan to push on. Collingwood was in great form, exploding into action with three boundaries in a Kulasekara over and then pulling Lasith Malinga for two big sixes. Soon after, though, tte fast bowler would have his revenge when Collingwood played on, seemingly caught in two minds about whether to attack or defend, for 46.

Morgan had given Shah substantial headstart but quickly overtook him, showing little fear against either Ajantha Mendis or Muttiah Muralitharan on a pitch that barely suited them. Morgan's busy approach to his innings and the ease with which he found the gaps made it easy to see why coach Andy Flower sees him as a modern-day Neil Fairbrother.

Both Collingwood and the Irishman shared half-century stands with Shah, who was dismissed when he feathered an edge to Kumar Sangakkara to hand Muralitharan his first wicket of the tournament having made 44 in 74 deliveries with three fours and one scooped six over midwicket.

Facing Kulasekara, Morgan reached his half-century with an authoratative front-foot aerial drive which burst through the hands of a diving Malinga at mid-off which rather summed up the Sri Lankan fielding effort, Kandamby's blinder aside.

Each of England's four half-centuries was quicker than the last, showing just how well Morgan and Shah had paced things and the boundaries flowed towards the end as England coasted home without needing recourse tot he batting Power Play, Prior ending unbeaten on 28 from just 27 balls.

That they were chasing such a relatively modest target owed much to their fast bowlers taking full advantage of a hard, green surface after Strauss had won the toss. James Anderson (3-20) and Graham Onions (2-58) bowled beautifully first up to leave Sri Lanka's 'big four' back in the dressing room early on.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (2), Sanath Jayasuriya (0), Sangakkara (1) and Mahela Jayawardene (9) all failed but innings of 53 from Angelo Mathews and 52 from Thilina Kandamby, as well as a patient 30 from Thilan Samaraweera helped Sri Lanka rebuild.

Half-century partnerships for the fifth and sixth wickets gave Sri Lanka a platform of sorts and even after Kandamby was run out and Mathews was caught by Matthew Prior, Kulasekara and Muralitharan both scored 18 and Mendis made five to push Sri Lanka's score past 200.

Broad picked up two wickets in two balls when he bowled Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga which left Kulasekara unbeaten and Broad with figures of three for 49.

There was also a heartening moment for those who still believe in the Spirit of Cricket when England captain Strauss called back Mathews after a collision with Onions had resulted in him being run out.

© Cricket World 2009