ENGLAND batsman Ravi Bopara said last night that the country has never had a better one-day side, after he helped his team-mates to a comfortable win against Australia at the Oval yesterday.
The home team won by six wickets, waltzing to 252-4 with more than four overs left to go.
Earlier in the day Australia had finished on 251-7. Trailing 2-0, they now face the prospect of a series defeat if they lose Wednesday’s third one-day international at Edgbaston.
“I think this is probably the best side we’ve ever had,” enthused Bopara, after he top scored on 82 runs. “The bowlers are performing really well, putting pressure on [their] batsmen, and then there’s always someone in our top six that goes on and gets a big score.”
The Essex man put on a 90-run partnership with Ian Bell, who pitched in with 75 runs before being bowled by Australian captain Michael Clarke.
Bopara also showed his skills as an all-rounder during Australia’s innings. Captain Alastair Cook gave Bopara the nod and he bowled five overs, claiming the wicket of Clarke with the third ball of his first over.
England, having to cope without star fast bowler James Anderson – who had been ruled out through injury – shared out the seven wickets between five of their attack.
Spin bowler Graeme Swann was particularly parsimonious with the ball, conceding just 27 and claiming the crucial wicket of opener Shane Watson in the 32nd over.
Steven Finn and Stuart Broad each grabbed a wicket, while Tim Bresnan took a pair.
England, still unbeaten in one-day internationals in 2012, looked unflustered when put in to bat.
After Bopara’s and Bell’s high scores, Eoin Morgan made up for a couple of dropped catches by scoring an unbeaten 43 runs to deliver England to victory.
“I thought Ravi especially played really well, and obviously Ian as well,” Cook said after the game.
“A score of 250 is always gettable here at The Oval when you have wickets in hand and the batters did their job.”