England announced their arrival loud and clear after recording an emphatic 48-run victory over Australia. Ian Bell was adjudged the Man of the Match for his timely knock of 91. Let’s take a look at some of the key, memorable moments of the game:
The name’s Ian, ring a Bell?
The spotlight was on Captain Cook, but it was his opening partner who stole the show. Ian Bell was on the money with the bat, amassing a well-accumulated 91 studded with 7 boundaries. England needed to start their Champions Trophy campaign on a bright note and through Bell, they did just that. Bell played in controlled aggression mode as he rotated the strike at regular intervals. More importantly, he built solid partnerships with both Alistair Cook and Jonathan Trott to set up England’s total. By the time Bell departed, England were cruising at 189/3 in just under 38 overs. Mission partially accomplished!
Late, late flourish
Seriously, aren’t England lucky to have both Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara in their middle order? When the flamboyant guy fails, the orthodox one comes to the rescue.
Morgan, without doubt England’s best batsman in the shorter formats, was expected to continue in his usual fashion (which is to destroy everything at sight). However, Australia had a stroke of luck as Morgan shuffled way across the crease and got himself bowled. “Captain” Morgan left in a daze.
Ravi Bopara, the poor man’s Rahul Dravid, took responsibility and provided the late flourish. The six he hit off Mitchell Starc was a special shot. A gentle flick later, the ball went to the stands over deep midwicket. Regardless, a score of 269 is unlikely to be sufficient against a stronger side. This is where England need Morgan. As we go deeper into the tournament, we’ll get to see how important the Irishman’s role is in the team.
Bail-storms and Broken Stumps
It seems there was a mystical element floating around invisibly near the stumps in the 40th over. Faulkner had the ball, Bopara was batting and the bails decided to fall by themselves on the pitch. Further bizarre scenes followed. After going through a million replays, the third umpire decided to signal ‘OUT’ through the big screen after which he corrected himself, to Bopara’s relief. Hey Mr. Third Umpire, April 1st got over a couple of months ago.
Let’s bail out the bails for a second. How weak are the stumps? There was another instance when a stump at the non-striker’s end was broken in half while Australia were batting. Despite the alleged presence of an unknown being, the Barmy Army was in good spirits. (See what I did there?)
Aussie wickets, they keep on a-tumbling
Australia, despite power-houses such as David Warner and Shane Watson at the top, exposed their brittle batting line-up to a strong bowling attack. This is why I feel they don’t stand a chance to win the big one. Where’s Michael Clarke when you need him? On a lighter note, here’s a tip for Warner: never flash hard (my apologies, Ravi).
A special mention to Captain Bailey. Despite starting off on a painfully slow note, Bailey kept anchor while he watched his ship sink from the other end. It was a losing cause right from the time Watson was erroneously adjudged out. Meanwhile, let’s not take anything away from the England bowlers. It’s easier to rotate your bowlers when all of them bowl really well and Captain Cook can take some credit. James Anderson’s second spell was enchanting while Tim Bresnan impressed. All in all, an eye-catching all-round performance from the Poms.
To summarize, Australia simply don’t have enough quality players in their middle order and as a result they could suffer in the long run. Moments ago, we were witness to a preview of the Ashes. Let’s hope the remainder of their campaign doesn’t get charred as well.