England ready to defend title, says tyro Hales

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE opener Alex Hales believes England will head into their World Twenty20 opener on Friday in high spirits after his halfcentury helped them beat Australia by nine runs in Colombo yesterday.

Hales hit 52 off 38 balls as defending champions England amassed 172-6 before captain Stuart Broad clinched victory by taking the key wicket of Mike Hussey, whose 71 had propelled Australia towards their victory target.

The triumph was their first since arriving in Colombo, where they will begin the defence of their title on Friday against Afghanistan, and followed last week’s 28-run win over South Africa at Edgbaston.

Hales was ably assisted by Luke Wright and Eoin Morgan, who hit 35 off 26 and 30 off 16 respectively, while Steven Finn’s 2-26 made him the most effective English bowler.

“It’s a great way to start the warmup to this tournament, and we also had that good win against South Africa too, so we’re feeling pretty confident heading into this tournament” said the 23-year-old. “It adds to the confidence in the changing room, which is already pretty good.

“It’s nice to get some runs under your belt in the first warm-up game. It is a very different challenge to what we’re used to in England. But I think the deck was a lot better than everyone expected. It came on to the bat nicely, but I think 170 was a pretty good score out there.”

Australia all-rounder Shane Watson hit 37 and enjoyed a 74-run partnership with Hussey, who smashed five sixes, including three in succession off Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs.