|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
England lacklustre in win over Ireland
Prem Panicker | March 30, 2007 21:10 IST
Last Updated: March 31, 2007 02:58 IST
Paul Collingwood smashed 90 off 82 balls and Andrew Flintoff grabbed four wickets for 43 runs as England overcame Ireland by 48 runs in their World Cup Super Eight match on Friday.
The victory gave England their first points in the Super Eight after having failed to carry any from the group stage.
Chasing 266 for 7, the World Cup debutants were dismissed for 218 in 48.1 overs, with only Niall O'Brien's offering stubborn resistance with a fine 63 off 88 deliveries.
Ireland, going into its first Super Eights game at the Providence Stadium in Guyana, created an early flutter by taking out two England wickets cheap.
The problem with the associate nations though is that they have small fuel tanks; there is just so much it can hold. And once the early swing and seam died down and the opening bowlers - particularly the six-foot-seven Rankin Boyd - had shot their bolts, there was little gas left.
Michael Vaughan took first strike after calling the coin right; his intent on batting first must have been to try and beef up the England run rate (before this game, it is at -0.94, putting England 6th in the Super Eights with only Ireland and Bangladesh having worse run rates).
That attempt however depended on a barnstorming start. Seven balls into the innings, Ireland struck the first blow, when Rankin sent one down just outside off. Ed Joyce played the line and shouldered arms; the ball deviated back in off the seam and flattened the stumps (1/5; 6/1). The ball was good in line and length, but the batsman's judgment in letting one go so close to off and on such a full length contributed to the dismissal.
Four overs later, Rankin was at it again. This time, the bowler hit optimum length, just back of good to draw the batsman onto the front foot; coming down from his great height, the ball kicked off the deck and Vaughan could only hang his bat at that one, for the outside edge to go through to the keeper (6/13; 23/2).
There was just so much Rankin could do on his lonesome, though. His opening partner Langford-Smith was wayward in length and line, allowing the batsmen some free hits. And once Rankin was done with a controlled opening spell of 5-1-22-2, Ireland skipper Johnston came on and confronted a Kevin Pietersen who had, by then, got his eye in and was primed for mayhem.
Johnston's first ball was swatted through the covers; the next was blasted square; the fifth ball of the over was hit straight as a string, as Pietersen shifted fluidly up through the gears.
To his credit, Pietersen showed there was more to cricket than muscle and intent. Despite the power plays being taken, the England number four resisted the temptation to have a biff at everything, concentrating instead on working the ball around and waiting for the right ball to have a dash at.
At the other end, Bell was restrained - to a fault, in fact, as he allowed the bowlers to tie him up, and for long periods seemed unable even to take a single and give his more fluent partner the strike. Tight ground fielding by Ireland and some decent lines by Botha contributed to Bell's comatose state, but on balance, Bell let his side down by the nature of his play.
His problem was so marked that even the inexperienced Irish fielders knew to spread themselves out to the last ball of the over, tempting Bell to take a single so they didn't have to bowl at Pietersen.
Thanks to his inexplicably defensive style of play, the run rate actually fell a notch during the second optional power play, between 16-20 overs. A more telling statistic is this: at the 20 over mark, Bell was batting 29 off 70 deliveries faced, and in those he had 57 dot balls against just 13 singles.
Having taken up all that time, and deliveries, Bell then added to the injury by throwing it away. He attempted, off the second ball of the 22nd over, to open the bat face and run it down to third man, but was nowhere in control of the shot. Plus, he tried it to a ball too close to the body for control, and managed only to run it into the gloves of his brother Niall O'Brien (31/74; 4.23; partnership 66 at 4.12 of which Bell contributed 22 to Pietersen's 41).
A more mischievous keeper might in fact have contemplated dropping the chance, as Clive Lloyd did in the first World Cup off Geoff Boycott - Bell was playing Ireland's game for them, and increasingly frustrating Pietersen.
O'Brien and off break bowler Kyle McCallan teamed up to take the pace off the ball and bowl wicket to wicket lines, making run-scoring difficult; Collingwood and Pietersen resorted to pushes into space to try and make singles happen.
At the halfway mark, England are in indeterminate territory, with not enough runs on the board to launch an indiscriminate attack, yet needing a lot of runs if the plan of boosting the run rate is to work. The five overs 16-25 produced a mere 31 runs, for the loss of Bell, and that pretty much sums up the story on a day when Ireland punched well above their weight, and did themselves proud.
Johnston was very canny with his field placing, pulling his men well inside the ring, putting a premium on the singles, and challenging the batsmen to risk hitting over the top if they wanted runs.
5 overs: 22/1 @ 4.40 (Vaughan 6/12; Bell 8/16)
10 overs: 45/2 @ 4.50 (Bell 17/31; Pietersen 11/14)
15 overs: 73/2 @ 4.86 (Bell 22/47; Pietersen 34/28)
20 overs: 85/2 @ 4.25 (Bell 29/70; Pietersen 39/35)
25 overs: 104/3 @ 4.16 (Pietersen 46/43; Collingwood 8/18)
Overs 26 - 50
It is interesting - and if you are an Indian fan, a touch bitter - to see how even the `minnows' have understood the use of fielding as the peripatetic sixth bowler in the one day format.
Ireland skipper Trent Johnston showed considerable savvy in keeping his fielders well inside the ring, shutting down the singles and putting such a premium on run-making that he forced the batsmen to take risks. And the fielders did their captain proud, flinging themselves around, bringing off great saves and through their efforts, adding dentures to what is merely a decent club class attack.
The pressure such intelligent use of fielding can exert was exemplified in the dismissal of Pietersen. The big-hitting number four was going well enough, on 48/47, yet he was by his standards unable to really break free. There were no quick singles to be had, and some athletic fielding cut off some of his more ambitious shots.
Unable to cope with the idea of being shackled by what he probably viewed as a popgun attack, Pietersen in the 27th over danced down to McCallan, looking to whip him over the top of the on side. The bowler had taken the pace right off, Pietersen couldn't quite get to the pitch, and ended up hitting it to mid on where Porterfield dived to hold (48/47; 113/4).
Andrew Flintoff, reportedly on his best behavior after the pedalo fiasco, cracked the first ball he got through mid off, hitting with clean authority and immense power. Johnston, who led his team with commendable skill, went briefly to his quicker men Langford-Smith and Rankin to try and make something happen, but once he realized Flintoff liked the ball to come on to the bat, switched back to McCallan, and to the other offie Andrew White.
The two bowlers took the pace right off the ball, teased with flight and kept tight lines, forcing Flintoff and Collingwood to work hard for their runs. At a time when England needed a run a ball or better, two reputed one day players were forced to bat at around the 70 per cent strike rate.
172/4 heading into the death was a decent score if winning the match was the only criterion; it however was way below par if England was looking for a dominant performance and, with it, some momentum ahead of tougher battles.
McCallan bowled himself out in the 40th, returning impeccable figures of 10-0-38-1, and controlling the middle phase of the innings. Johnston was handicapped somewhat by the fact that Rankin, the most impressive of his seamers, broke down in his second spell and left the field for the duration.
Deprived of his best bowler, Johnston brought himself on, and struck the perfect blow in the 44th. Flintoff, who had till that point kept his power hitting on a leash, seemed to be readying to open out. Johnston slowed the pace of a delivery in the channel, and kept it close to the stumps; Flintoff cut at it in an attempt to find the vacant third man, was foxed by the change down, and managed only to chop it onto his stumps (43/62; 194/4).
The wicket broke an 81-run partnership at 4.76 rpo, that was just beginning to assume ominous proportions.
Once Flintoff left, Collingwood - who had at the other end quietly progressed to his 15th ODI 50, off 65 balls -- took over the onus of acceleration. In the 46th over, he used the long handle against Johnston, lofting him over mid off and then midwicket; in between, Nixon got cramped for room but managed to muscle one over mid on. That over was the most expensive for Ireland since the 12th, when Pietersen had clubbed three fours.
That over opened the floodgates; Collingwood and Nixon began hitting out at pretty much everything. There were some great shots, including a golf-style drive off the tee by Collingwood, off Botha, over long on. There were also mishits flaring off edges and falling into vacant space, but it was all to the good for England as the run rate finally got a move on.
In the midst of all that slogging, Nixon went to a great catch; the batsman, having just clubbed a six off the first ball over long on, clouted Botha's next delivery high in the air. Morgan sprinted around, shrugged off a brief misjudgment, dived, and held a great outfield catch (19/15; 245/6; partnership 51 at 10.55).
Collingwood's match-turning hit-about - he had gone from 50 off 65, to 90 off 81, hammering 40 off 16 once the slog was on, fell to a great bit of fielding at the very end. He hit hard to mid on; the throw was wide, umpire Simon Taufel dodged in the way, but Johnston kept his wits about him and palmed it onto the stumps to end a terrific, and beautifully paced, knock that in the final analysis saved England's blushes (90/82; 258/7).
England ended on 266/7 - way more than Ireland can reasonably expect to make, but a good 30 or more less than the relative strengths of its batting versus the Irish bowling led you to expect.
Ireland impressed, with the ball and in the field; they controlled the game for 40 overs - 45, even - before the Collingwood-Nixon blast took it away.
Progression: 26-50 overs
30 overs: 125/4 @ 4.16 (Collingwood 17/28; Flintoff 9/16)
35 overs: 149/4 @ 4.25 (Collingwood 25/38; Flintoff 21/36)
40 overs: 172/4 @ 4.30 (Collingwood 35/52; Flintoff 34/52)
45 overs: 201/5 @ 4.46 (Collingwood 51/66; Nixon 4/6)
50 overs: 266/7 @ 5.32 (Mahmood 0/0; Bopara 10/5)
Any hope that Ireland would fade quietly into the sunset was belied by a belligerent third wicket stand between William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien that, while realizing 50 off 68 balls (a rate, note, that compares very favorably with the Pietersen-Bell effort at a similar point in England's innings), gave England considerable pause for thought.
The fall of two quick wickets at the start of the chase suggested that England would steam-roller the opposition and in the process, do its run rate a bit of alright.
As early as the fifth ball of Ireland's innings, James Anderson bowled one outside off that was in Jeremy Bray's hitting area. The opener overhit the ball in his excitement at sighting a gimme, and managed only to slice it for Ravi Bopara to hang on to a scorcher (0/1; 6/1).
Three overs later, Porterfield had a hit at Sajid Mahmood, but only managed to take the ball on the body. Eoin Morgan called, and ran but Mahmood raced him step for step down the wicket, picked up and, on the lunge, reverse-flicked the ball to break the stumps - a very athletic take down that left the Irish in considerable strife (2/7; 11/2).
Once Niall O'Brien joined Porterfield, the game changed. England's bowlers every now and again beat the bat, or found Chinese cuts flirting with the stumps, but in the main, both batsmen batted in a fashion that belied the `minnow' status.
If in the field Ireland was quick to stop singles, with the bat they were as quick to take them. They also showed a healthy irreverence; O'Brien for instance greeting Flintoff's spell by easing onto the front foot and driving him smooth as you like to the straight fence.
The problem England continues to confront s an inability to apply pressure, once the natural swing and seam peters off after the first few overs. The two batsmen played with calm competence, increasingl untroubled by anything thrown at them; Vaughan was forced to spread the field to try and contain the boundaries.
Shoddy fielding contributed to England's woes. In the 11th over, O'Brien had a pull at Mahmood that put the ball in the air; Ed Joyce at midwicket jumped, got both hands to a ball that was not hit particularly hard, and let it slip through.
The entry of Collingwood into the attack, and the return of Flintoff for a more thoughtful second spell, signaled a turnaround. Both bowlers gave up on attack and settled into restrictive lines, looking to keep the batsmen from scoring.
`Pressure' is a funny thing, especially the kind players feel on a chase. The partnership was developing quite nicely; the bowling seemed to be running out of ideas. England, at the 20 over mark, had made 85/2, with Pietersen at the crease; Ireland in comparision was 72/2 after 18.
Yet a couple of tight overs, by Flintoff and Collingwood, had the inexperienced Irish fidgeting. Porterfield's nerve broke; in a bid to make something happen, he came down the track looking to flick, was nowhere near the pitch, and managed only to get a leading edge to short cover (31/68; 72/3; partnership 61 at 4.02).
Having pushed the required rate into the 6.something range, Vaughan brought on Panesar at one end and himself at the other to take the pace off and make the batsmen do all the work - a case of England doing unto Ireland what the Irish had done unto them. O'Brien discovered how effective the tactic can be - for all his bustling around, it took a tremendous amount of energy to get the ball off the square.
At the halfway mark, there really was nothing to chose between the two teams - Ireland was 102/3 after 25 overs; England had been 104/3 at the same stage. Come to think of it, that is probably the best summation of, and complement for, the Irish chase thus far, that unknown players performed as well as the Vaughans, Bells, Pietersens et al.
The ask rate has gone up to 6.77, and that is the problem the Irish will now have to solve in the second half of the chase.
5 overs: 11/2 @ 2.20 (Porterfield 5/20; Niall O'Brien 0/2)
10 overs: 41/2 @ 4.10 (Porterfield 23/41; O'Brien 9/14)
15 overs: 62/2 @ 4.13 (Porterfield 28/56; O'Brien 25/29)
20 overs: 77/3 @ 3.85 (O'Brien 34/42; Botha 1/5)
25 overs: 102/3 @4.01 (O/Brien 40/52; Botha 12/26)
Overs 26 - 48.1
In the second half of the chase, Ireland went off the rails - perhaps expectedly.
Even experienced teams stumble when the asking rate climbs into the 7+ territory; to expect Ireland to hold its nerve and make a fist of it was, simply put, a bit much.
With the ask mounting by the over (and Ireland would have been aware, too, that it did not have a Collingwood to make a late charge), the batsmen increasingly took risks while trying to make things happen - and the wickets began falling.
Botha swept hard at Panesar, but mishit the shot so completely that the top edge flew to mid on. The fielder could not have been expecting a ball to come to him from that particular shot; he stuttered initially, but then recovered to judge to a nicety and hold 18/39; 116/4).
That brought the two O'Briens together, but only briefly. Panesar struck again in the 36th over when he straightened one into Kevin O'Brien, cut loose with a frenzied appeal, and got Simon Taufel to give it to him - a marginal call, but no real reason for the batsman to quarrel (12/19; 139/5).
Niall O'Brien, all along, had been putting on a batting exhibition at the other end, playing with control and considerable poise - but with wickets tumbling at the other end, the pressure of having to do it all himself got to him. In the 37th, he came down the track to a well flighted delivery from Vaughan, lost the ball in flight and was stranded yards out of his crease, giving Nixon a simple stumping (63/88; 139/6).
The asking rate, by then, was 10+ and climbing, so there really was nothing for Andrew White and Trent Johnston but to take a few healthy swings, for pride and pleasure. Johnston launched a pull that deposited Vaughan outside the square leg boundary.
Vaughan bowled 9 and took 1/34; it is a safe bet he won't be bowling that many in the more serious games to come. James Anderson, erratic in his first spell, took the ball and proved that he was versatile - he could be equally erratic in his second spell as well. Johnston evaded a couple that went way to leg, then teed off and smashed the ball several rows into the stands behind midwicket.
Panesar at the other end completed a spell that reminded you in more than one way of Harbhajan Singh - tight, defensive, and not really looking to take wickets (he did get two, but that was more about Ireland batting than his bowling).
Sajid Mahmood came on in his place, and Johnston promptly whaled into him: a ball wide of off was cut to third man, then blasted the next over point.
Like they said of the Charge of the Light Brigade - magnificent, but it wasn't war. (Or at least, what Pierre Bosquet actually said was C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre, but I can't pronounce that stuff).
The late charge didn't help appreciably in terms of the chase - despite 29 runs coming off overs 41, 42 and 43, the ask rate remained above 11. What it did, though, was take the wind out of England's sails. It was not a particularly distinguished bowling performance from England to start with; the inability to ram the advantage home further underlined that this attack is not up there in the Cup-winning class.
Vaughan became increasingly desperate, rotating his bowlers like they were on a merry go round. Flintoff came on and found some sort of radar going; the batsmen still managed to squeeze twos, including one incredible flicked shot to wide midwicket, off yorker length balls.
Finally, Flintoff got one very full and very straight, Johnston aimed a hit at it, missed, and was bowled for a hugely entertaining cameo (27/21; 197/7).
Here's a stat: after 45 overs, England was 201/5; against that, Ireland, a team that doesn't even have official ODI status, was 199/7.
White took over from Johnston and cracked Collingwood for consecutive fours, but in attempting a paddle, mishit the ball and lobbed it up in the air for Nixon to hold (38/35; 209/8).
Flintoff then swung wide and angled one in full and on the stumps - Langford-Smith, gone LBW (1/2; 210/9).
And in the 49th, Flintoff finished it off with another one, full, straight, through McCallan, and England had sealed the win by 48 runs - with just 11 balls to spare.
England go away with two points; against that, the bowlers' struggle to contain, then dismiss, Ireland was not a particularly good omen for the bigger games to come.
30 overs: 117/4 @ 3.90 (Niall O'Brien 53/69; Kevin O'Brien 0/0)
35 overs: 133/4 @ 3.80 (Niall O'Brien 62/83; Kevin O'Brien 7/16)
40 overs: 151/6 @ 3.77 (Johnston 8/8; White 4/14)
45 overs: 199/7 @ 4.42 (McCallan 2/1; White 28/30)
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
Would you like to join the Cricket and Cricket Lovers Discussion Group and discuss your cricket views with other cricket freaks? Click here. Have fun!