EOIN MORGAN produced another batting masterclass to send England spirits soaring ahead of today’s start of the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.
The diminutive Irish-born left-hander added to his glowing reputation in limited-overs cricket with a match-winning knock to help England wrap up a five-wicket warm-up win over South Africa in Barbados.
Morgan smashed 63 from 62 balls, including a 71-run stand with captain Paul Collingwood (23), to help England recover from a horror start which saw rookie South African-born openers Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter both fall cheaply, and star man Kevin Pietersen caught behind for a first-ball duck.
Similarly, the England bowlers got off to a promising start after the Proteas opted to bat first. Spinner Michael Yardy, who claimed three wickets against Bangladesh on Wednesday night, impressed again, claiming the scalps of captain Graeme Smith (16) and AB de Villiers (28) in figures of 2-25, while Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann dismissed Loots Bosman (10) and Mark Boucher (9) respectively. Indeed, but for JP Duminy (30no) and Albie Morkel (32no) in putting on an unbeaten stand of 59, the Proteas would never have got close to reaching their 125-5.
Lumb (4) and Pietersen both fell to Rory Kleinveldt in his opening seven balls, while Kieswetter was sent back to the pavilion in the very next over, finding Rusty Theron at third man off Morne Morkel for five.
But Middlesex star Morgan, who smashed 85 in 45 balls against the Proteas at the Wanderers last November, led the England charge with a mature, but destructive innings of six fours and two sixes, ably supported by his skipper.
But once Morgan chipped a simple catch to Johan Botha at mid-wicket off Theron, it was left to Luke Wright (10no) and Tim Bresnan (15no) to see England home with three balls to spare.