ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook is hopeful of a brutal encounter when India and Sri Lanka meet in today’s second Champions Trophy semi-final, with his team set to play the winners in Sunday’s showpiece final at Edgbaston.
Cook’s men scored a straightforward seven-wicket win over South Africa in yesterday’s last four encounter at The Oval, with Jonathan Trott hitting a match-winning 82 runs from 84 balls after the visitors were bowled out for a modest 175.
England immediately turn their attention to Sunday’s final, harbouring hopes of winning the Champions Trophy for the first time.
And, having been beaten by India 3-2 in a one-day international series in January and losing by seven wickets to Sri Lanka in a Champions Trophy group match last week, Cook hopes an extra day’s rest can give his side the edge in the final.
“Hopefully it can be a tight game and they knock themselves around a bit and we can be nice and fresh for Sunday,” he said.
“It’s been a good tournament for us so far and we’re lucky to be playing in front of a home crowd.
“To win a tournament you need everyone to contribute at some point and we’ve had that. Trott played a great innings to see us home, Jos [Buttler] with some great keeping and [James] Tredwell is so reliable.
“That’s the performance you want in a semi-final.”
Having won the toss, Cook chose to field and England made a storming start with wickets for James Anderson (2-14) and Steven Finn (1-45) in the first two overs.
With South Africa precariously placed on 50-4 spinner James Tredwell came into the attack and gave the selectors something to think about, should team-mate Graeme Swann overcome a calf injury by Sunday, promptly helping himself to three wickets and leaving the visitors in disarray at 80-2.
A 95-run ninth-wicket stand between David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt restored some respectability, before Kleinveldt’s dismissal off the bowling of Stuart Broad – bringing up wicketkeeper Jos Buttler’s fifth catch of six in the process – broke the partnership and Lonwabo Tsotsobe was out from the very next ball.
Early wickets of Cook (six) and Ian Bell (20) gave South Africa faint hope in reply.
But Joe Root (48) joined Trott at the crease to put on 105 for the third wicket, as England cruised to 179-3 in less than 38 overs.