Eoin Morgan downplays return to form as England win in tough conditions
Eoin Morgan downplayed finding some semblance of form at the T20 World Cup but took immense comfort in England battling away in a situation he suspects was “as bad as it’s going to be” in a 26-run win against Sri Lanka.
Morgan came into the contest averaging a paltry 12.71 from 13 T20 internationals this year, having endured a miserable conclusion to the Indian Premier League with eight single-digit scores in his last nine innings there.
He looked especially ill-at-ease on a slow, low Sharjah surface although so too did the in-form Jos Buttler, as they were suffocated by some canny bowling and smart field placings by Sri Lanka on a muggy evening.
While Buttler’s maiden T20 international ton catapulted England up to 163 for four from 47 for three at halfway, Morgan clattered three sixes as he accelerated from nine off 20 balls to finish with 40 from 36 deliveries.
Asked whether he was feeling in better touch towards the end of his innings, Morgan said: “Me? No, no. This ground is very challenging. It’s just because the ball’s older, a bit darker and the bounce is really low.
“It’s hard to get going and be free-flowing. Even Jos who’s in unbelievable form really did find it unbelievably tough and when I got to the wicket he talked about just getting something going.
“Even he struggled to rotate the strike. After facing a lot of balls they were due to bowl a bad one. But it’s good, it’s runs on the board, it’s a contribution to winning the game and batting with one of my best mates.
“It was nice being at the other end when he started getting going, he really is unbelievable. Without that absolutely unbelievable knock we’d have been nowhere.”
A 112-run stand between Buttler and Morgan was crucial for England, who had to confront moisture on the pitch and outfield because of evening dew and the loss of Tymal Mills to injury before claiming a fourth win of the campaign.
Mills will discover when he undergoes a scan in the next day or two whether the tight right quad that led to the left-arm fast bowler limping off the field will curtail his tournament prematurely.
England will be loathe to take risks with Mills ahead of their final Super 12s group game against South Africa, with qualification to the semi-finals all but assured due to their haul of eight points and superior net run-rate.
They maintained their 100 per cent record after skittling Sri Lanka for 137, having been forced to set and defend a total for the first time following commanding wins over the West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia batting second.
On whether it was significant to win batting first, Morgan said: “I think it is. Even if it’s not a win, I think it’s important to experience the challenges that every other side has to overcome.”
Morgan, though, feels the issues that faced England on Monday night might be a worst-case scenario so he admitted it could be that the batters up the tempo earlier against the Proteas at Sharjah, even if the tactic backfires.
He said: “Considering that’s I think as bad as it’s going to be, if we’re playing a side that comes harder for longer, does more for longer, say South Africa on Saturday, we’ll have to ask questions of ourselves earlier.
“We might have to try and post a bigger score and possibly risk posting a lower score at the same time, so things to juggle. Looking back at it now I think things worked out alright for us.
“If one of our bowlers hadn’t have gone down I think we would have been in a reasonably strong position, but asking more of the guys I think actually worked out well as an experience.”
Morgan is renowned for his unflappable demeanour on the field but even he showed emotion in the clutch moments as Sri Lanka’s challenge subsided, and he added with a grin: “We’re having fun. I might not look like it, but yeah.”
Phil Salt grateful for England backing after starring in big win over Pakistan
The opener had scored just 59 runs in his first five innings on tour but blazed 87 not out to guide England to victory over Pakistan on Friday.
Phil Salt powers England to emphatic win over Pakistan as series goes to decider
Opener Salt scored an unbeaten 88 as England won by eight wickets.
Unbeaten Babar Azam gives Pakistan shot at wrapping up England series
Babar held court throughout the 20 overs and guided his team to 169 for six.
Liam Norwell saves Warwickshire as Yorkshire suffer relegation to Division Two
Norwell’s career-best nine wickets for 62 runs sealed a five-run win over Hampshire on a thrilling final day of the season.
DCMS hearing on discrimination in cricket pencilled in for December 13
Azeem Rafiq and Lord Patel are set to be asked to appear.
England captain Jos Buttler ‘learning lots’ despite not playing in Pakistan
Buttler has a calf injury, which has ruled him out of the T20 series so far, but he insisted on travelling and has been observing throughout the trip.
We’re a better team than that – England’s batting disappoints Moeen Ali
The tourists were unable to make 146 in their Twenty20 chase against Pakistan.
Moeen Ali heroics in vain as Pakistan take series lead over England
The tourists failed to chase 146 in Lahore.
Warwickshire up against it to avoid relegation as Yorkshire nervously watch on
The Bears need to beat Hampshire to overhaul Yorkshire.
Mark Wood stars with his fierce pace as England restrict Pakistan total
Wood returned to the side after a rest and picked up three for 20 in another rousing burst.