RAVI BOPARA took his chance to impress the selectors with a magnificent knock as England opened their ICC World Twenty20 campaign with a seven-wicket warm-up win over Bangladesh at the Kensington Oval.
Essex batsman Bopara got the nod to bat at three in the absence of Kevin Pietersen and smashed 62 off 48 balls as England cruised to their victory target of 127 with 17 balls to spare.
Bopara was playing his first game for England since losing his form during last summer’s Ashes series, and didn’t disappoint, sharing match-winning stands of 45 with opener Craig Kieswetter (22) and then 71 with captain Paul Collingwood, who added 32.
He is now certain to get another chance to shine tonight when England take on South Africa in their second warm-up game in Barbados before their campaign starts in earnest against hosts West Indies on 3 May.
Bangladesh opted to bat first and struggled throughout with the spin of Michael Yardy, who also impressed with figures of 3-20. Seamer James Anderson, playing his first match for England since the winter after undergoing knee surgery, chipped in with 2-23 as the Tigers were reduced to 126-7.
Michael Lumb was handed a debut but his opening partnership with fellow rookie Kieswetter made just ten runs before the Hampshire man slapped a catch to Naeem at cover off Syed Rasel for eight.
Kieswetter’s innings included two huge sixes before he was eventually left stranded down the pitch by the left-arm spin of Shakib, leaving Bopara to take over and lead England home on the ground where he made his maiden Test hundred last year.
Meanwhile, Australia fast bowler Brett Lee has been ruled out of the World Twenty20 after picking up a muscle strain in his side’s shock one-run warm-up defeat to Zimbabwe on Tuesday.