Fears grow over Morgan’s form

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Published: Wednesday 11th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Captain Eoin Morgan will head into the World Cup with heightened concern over his form after failing again to score in England’s final warm-up match against Pakistan in Sydney.

The left-hander has now been dismissed for three ducks in his past four innings, the other score was just two, since he hit a century to start the tri-series at the SCG.

Morgan was catapulted into the captaincy following the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to axe Alastair Cook after his lean tour of Sri Lanka just before Christmas.

But with England due to begin their World Cup campaign in front of a 90,000-strong MCG sell-out against Australia in just three days’ time, the issue of a lack of runs from their leader is back in the spotlight.

Morgan’s latest dismissal came in bizarre style too as his attempted leg-side paddle to a Yasir Shah full toss somehow popped in the other direction to slip.

England managed 250 for eight with Joe Root and Gary Ballance making half-centuries on the same wicket used in Monday’s nine-wicket warm-up win over West Indies.

Root was the only batsman to find any flow as he top scored with a composed 85 from 89 balls after Ballance ground out an 81-ball 57 in his first game on tour after breaking a finger in an early training session in Canberra.

Ballance was one of four changes to the team that easily outpointed West Indies as England ensured all 15 of their World Cup squad got a run out this week.

That meant Alex Hales also returned alongside veteran seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Ian Bell, James Taylor, Chris Woakes and Steven Finn made way.

After the Windies’ meek capitulation in the first warm-up match it was no surprise that Morgan opted to bat first after winning the toss to give his batsmen more time in the middle.

That Morgan failed to take the chance himself – he has now been out four times in 18 balls – was a source of frustration also felt by fellow out-of-form batsman Ravi Bopara who scratched away for 11, from 25 balls, before he completely misread a Shah wrong-un.

There were positives to be taken, though, most significantly from Yorkshire pair Ballance and Root, whose intelligent batting at the end enabled a defendable total after England had been 184 for six.

Ballance might not have been in the World Cup squad but for Cook’s demotion and, after having to bide his time through injury, he cautiously set about reminding the selectors of his quality.

He built into his innings, he was two from 17 balls before crashing a cut to the rope, before netting a 64-run stand with Hales after Moeen Ali was out cheaply offering a leading edge to Ehsan Adil.

Hales managed 31 before he was also victim to a tame dismissal, stroking Shahid Afridi to mid-wicket.

Ballance and Root continued England’s steady but unspectacular early progress with the second half-century stand of the innings, from 59 balls, before Ballance’s stay ended on 57 with a sweep to deep square-leg off Shah.

Morgan and Bopara then quickly came and went and when vice-captain Jos Buttler was yorked by Sohail Khan for 13, Root was left to bat with the lower order in the final 10 overs.

Root lofted the first six of the innings over midwicket off Shah in the 43rd over, and Chris Jordan followed suit three overs later as the pair supplied some acceleration with 60 from 49 balls.

Root was out when he top-edged a paddle sweep off Khan, and Broad was held for a first-ball duck when he skied Wahab Riaz even higher, before Jordan ended unbeaten on 31.

Published: Wednesday 11th February 2015 by The News Editor

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