England Secure First Victory
England beat Canada by 51 runs in their World Cup Group C encounter at Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia.
England shrugged off a weekend of late nights, disciplinary action and recriminations to get their World Cup campaign back on track with a workmanlike victory over Canada.
Needing victory to ensure they remained on course for the Super Eight stage of the tournament, England's preparations could not have been worse with a convincing opening defeat by New Zealand followed by six players being disciplined for staying out in a nightclub until the early hours of yesterday morning.
All-rounder and talisman Andrew Flintoff was dropped for his role in the late night antics and stripped of the vice-captaincy – but somehow amid the mayhem England conjured up enough of a performance to claim a 51-run triumph.
Put into bat again after captain Michael Vaughan again lost the toss, England made a competitive 279 for six with Ed Joyce and Paul Collingwood hitting half-centuries – Canada were restricted to 228 for seven in reply.
Unlike Friday's mauling by New Zealand, this time England enjoyed a solid start with captain Michael Vaughan and Ed Joyce forging a 101-run opening stand spanning 20 overs which should have enabled England to hit a massive total.
But once Vaughan missed out on a major opportunity to register his maiden one-day international century, cutting medium-pacer Abdool Samad straight to point just five runs short of his half-century, England lost their momentum and composure.
Having had a solid foundation built by their opening pair, England were expected to build on that but instead suffered another mini-collapse similar to those which marked their defeats in the warm-up match against Australia and Friday's loss against New Zealand.
Forklift driver and left-arm spinner Sunil Dhaniram was the architect of that slump, tempting Ian Bell into a mistimed slog sweep which looped into the air and was caught at slip to begin the slide.
That setback only served to increase the pressure on Middlesex opener Joyce, who had found scoring difficult after reaching his maiden World Cup half-century with the crowd at the Beausejour Stadium giving him the slow hand-clap to illustrate their frustration at his failure to score more quickly.
Desperate to break out of his rut, Joyce became Dhaniram's second victim in as many overs when he dragged onto his stumps for a determined 66.
Kevin Pietersen got off the mark by hammering a four down the ground for four two balls later, but lasted only three more deliveries before Dhaniram claimed a sharp return catch to leave England shaking on 161 for four.
Unlike the New Zealand match, when they were unable to recover from their mid-innings slump, this time they could thank the experience of Paul Collingwood and the exhuberance of Ravi Bopara on his World Cup debut for regaining the momentum.
They added 81 in only 11 overs until Essex all-rounder Bopara, filling in for the suspended Flintoff, was bowled by seamer George Codrington – one of five members of Canada's line-up over 38 – attempting to add to his impressive cameo innings of 29 off 30 balls.
Collingwood, the main contributor to England's stunning Commonwealth Bank series triumph last month in Australia, showed the full range of his strokeplay – which has put him in line to succeed Flintoff as England's vice-captain.
The Durham all-rounder hammered an unbeaten 62 off only 48 balls and with Paul Nixon hammering 23 off only eight deliveries, England were able to add a crucial 98 in the final 10 overs.
That importance of that run spree was underlined when Canada's collection of part-timers got off to a flying start despite losing three wickets inside the first 10 overs of their reply.
Liam Plunkett, one of the four playes included in the starting line-up who were fined for being seen nightclubbing less than 48 hours before today's match, attempted to make amends with two of the early wickets.
Opener Geoff Barnett misjudged a full-length delivery which nipped back and clipped his off-stump as he shouldered arms and Ashish Bagai was caught at backward point attempting to cut a short ball.
Lancashire seamer Anderson, another of the late night revellers, also removed John Davison – scorer of a 67-ball century against West Indies at the previous World Cup.
It was not until Ashif Mulla and Abdool Samad combined in a 96-run stand that Canada recovered from their shaky start.
Mulla impressively hit 56 off 57 balls, including seven fours and a six, but fell to newcomer Bopara after being tempted out of his crease – allowing Nixon to complete a stumping.
Samad fell in the next over, given leg before to left-arm spinner Monty Panesar and despite a determined 30 from Dhaniram, Canada's challenge faded.
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