Eoin Morgan - A captain leading from the front
Eoin Morgan is known for his flamboyance, elegance, attacking prowess and ability to perform in crunch situations. But in the last one year or so, he was struggling for runs. His drought started last year in May in the series against Sri Lanka. Then England toured India, and the story was no different, as he scored only 84 runs at an average of 21.00. He was appointed as the English skipper after a poor outing in Sri Lanka (average of 12.85), but justified his selection by scoring 121 against Australia in the first match of the Carlton Mid One-Day International Tri-Series, 2014/15.
After scoring the hundred, he couldn’t carry on the form as he was dismissed for 0, 2 and 0 in the remaining matches. As a captain, he had a decent outing since England reached the finals of the series by outplaying India.
World Cup debacle
England failed to reach the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup as they lost a couple of one-sided games to Australia and New Zealand. But losing to Bangladesh was the final nail in the coffin. Morgan's captaincy raised some eyebrows and his performance with the bat was far from impressive as he scored only 90 runs at an average of 18.00.
He had some successful outings in the IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, but everyone knows that international cricket is a different ball game. Morgan knew that if he failed to perform in the New Zealand series, he would be ousted from the team. The pressure to perform was immense, as a captain as well as a batsman.
In fact, the morale was down for the entire team. And, on the other hand, the Kiwis were coming after a successful world cup campaign where they made it to the finals for the very first time in their history.
In the first game of the series, New Zealand won the toss and elected to field against England. England posted a mammoth 408 with the help of centuries from Joe Root and Jos Buttler. Morgan also chipped in with a 46 ball 50. There were glimpses of his shot-making ability. In reply, the Kiwis bowled out for 198.
New Zealand opted to bat in the second game and posted 398 thanks to Ross Taylor's 119 and Williamson's 93. Chasing a total over 300 has always been difficult but this was one was close to 400, a difficult task for any batting line-up.
England added a solid opening partnership of 85 runs in 12.3 overs before Jason Roy was dismissed for 39. They lost Hales and Root in quick succession as well and fell from 85-0 to 100-3 in the 16th over.
Ben Stokes joined his skipper Morgan at the crease. Both played with an aggressive mindset and played some attacking shots. Though, Stokes was dismissed for 28(17), the captain was going strong. He added another useful partnership with Buttler.
England were cruising for a famous victory as they were well placed at 259-4 in 32 overs. But Buttler and Morgan were dismissed soon and England fell short of 13 runs(D/L method).
Morgan scored a 47 ball 88 in the match and it was one of his best knocks. It consisted of six fours and as many sixes. He played the spinners and the fast bowlers with the same amount of ease. Shots down the ground and the slog sweeps were pleasing to the eyes. Albeit, it was one in the losing cause, cricket lovers and English fans will remember this innings for a long time.
113(82) and chasing 350 in 44 overs
England lost the 3rd game of the series by 3 wickets though Morgan scored yet another fifty(71 from 82). With the win in the 3rd game, New Zealand were only one win away from clinching the series.
In the 4th encounter, the Kiwis posted 349-7 with a brilliant 90(70) from Kane Williamson. England got off to a flier with Hales scoring 67(38) with Roy giving him good company with 38(35).
After the dismissal of the openers, came the partnership of the match. Morgan was free flowing at one end and Root was watchful at the other end. The skipper reached his 100 in 73 balls with 12 fours and 5 sixes. He scored most of his runs straight down the ground. The 44 ball 88 the other day was more of a flashy innings, but this was something special. The duo already added 198 runs in 26.2 overs when Morgan was dismissed for 113(82) in the 40th over. England went on to win the match in 44 overs with Root also getting to the three-figure mark.
Even though he was out for a first-ball duck in the final match, his side won a thriller to clinch the series 3-2.
The English team is back to winning ways as they now have an aggressive mindset and are equipped better. It is good to see that the captain is showing the way by leading from the front. If the Irishman can keep up his good work with the willow, then surely this English team would be a force to reckon with in the future.