Cricket: Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara carry England to victory
ENGLAND coasted to their eighth successive one-day international victory, to go 2-0 up on Australia in the NatWest Series.
Ravi Bopara (82) and Ian Bell (75) shared a stand of 90 at The Oval as England’s batsmen consolidated an effective performance from their bowlers to complete the task with six wickets and more than four overs to spare.
Bell, a revelation at the top of the order since his ODI recall last month, brought up his 50 in 71 balls with his fourth boundary – to add to a straight six off Shane Watson – and Bopara was more fluent still on a good batting surface in a chanceless half-century from only 54 deliveries.
The outcome was rarely in the remotest doubt, though, once Australia’s innings stalled in the middle overs. Opener Watson’s half-century had hinted at much better than 251 for seven, after Michael Clarke won the toss.
Watson (66) reached 50 with his eighth four at a run a ball but took another 30 over his last 14 runs, before George Bailey cashed in his lengthy reconnaissance with a career-best 65.
The tourists reached three figures in the 20th over. But there was just one boundary, for the loss of Clarke’s wicket, in the next ten as Graeme Swann in particular put the brakes on.
It was the off-spinner too who got rid of Watson, unable to do any more than chip a straightforward catch into the wind to deep midwicket as he tried to revive the scoring rate.
England captain Alastair Cook was more than happy with his team’s all-round display. “It’s nice to get over the line,” he said afterwards on Sky Sports. “I thought Ravi especially played really well and obviously Ian as well. A score of 250 is always gettable here at The Oval when you have wickets in hand and the batters did their job. Our bowlers also did well. We put that squeeze on between 25 and 35 overs, and that really took 20 to 30 runs off their score.”
James Anderson, nursing a tight groin from Saturday’s series opener at Lord’s, was unfit and replaced by Jade Dernbach – who took the new ball alongside Steven Finn.
The latter saw off the dangerous David Warner early, mistiming a pull for an easy catch into the leg-side ring.
Watson had some fortune on his side, dropped by Jonathan Trott in the gully on eight off Dernbach and twice surviving via DRS when Stuart Broad thought he might have him lbw. He and number three Peter Forrest had to start again, after a half-hour rain stoppage midway through the 12th over.
Broad interrupted any momentum, when he had Forrest deflecting the ball down the leg-side – where a diving Craig Kieswetter took a very good catch.
England’s seamers were struggling to control their lines, bowling an extra over of wides in the first 16 as they tried to cramp Watson’s off-side strokeplay and kept drifting down leg.
But Bopara’s part-time medium-pace immediately brought the substantial bonus of Clarke’s wicket, attempting to farm off-side runs but getting an inside-edge behind instead.
Thereafter, Watson and Bailey got stuck as Australia appeared to place their faith in the concept of wickets in hand.
Bailey roused himself to reach his second one-day international 50 in 72 balls.
He then rode his luck – Swann venting his anger when Tim Bresnan failed to make the required ground to complete a tough outfield catch, with Bailey on 52 – and the batsman escaping again three runs later when a direct hit from Bopara would have run him out.
Bailey and David Hussey, brilliantly run out by Finn, did enough in a stand of 78 to just about keep Australia in the game. But Bresnan beat a Bailey heave for the first of two wickets in four balls.
England’s reply did not need to be much more than competent, all the more so after a wayward first two overs with the new ball from Mitchell Johnson set up the chase.
Alastair Cook was lbw pushing forward to first-change Clint McKay, and Trott bowled off an inside-edge as he advanced to Shane Watson.
But Bell made few mistakes as he continued his prolific form since replacing the retired Kevin Pietersen.
Matthew Wade dropped him on 38, standing up to Watson. But after Warner did likewise at point at the start of Brett Lee’s second spell, Bell could add only another five runs before being bowled when he missed a cut at the first delivery from Clarke.
Eoin Morgan was saved by DRS, and the faintest of inside edges according to Hostpot, when Clarke – and umpire Richard Illingworth, initially – thought he was gone lbw for a second-ball duck.
That moment of controversy passed, England continued seamless progress to a routine and impressive win – and the only shame was that Bopara managed to run himself out two runs short of the finish line.
The third one-day international is at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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