Eoin Morgan rues England’s stuttering batting after Sri Lanka defeat

• ‘Unfortunately Alex Hales struggled to keep the strike’
• England captain praised Harry Gurney’s debut
Match report: Sri Lanka win by nine runs

England’s new regime did not get off to the ideal start. They were defeated by nine runs in front of a packed house by Sri Lanka, the T20 world champions. There is no disgrace in that and this is just the first of countless games against Asian opposition this summer.

However, there will be an unwanted tension in the England camp until they conjure some victories, given their appalling winter. England’s victory target of 184 was larger than it should have been. Eoin Morgan, the captain, was satisfied with the first 15 overs in the field but, using Irish understatement, he acknowledged: that “We didn’t finish as well as we would like.”

As ever a dropped catch triggered England’s loss of control. Michael Carberry, a surprising pick as a debutant in this form of the game at 33 years of age, dropped a straightforward skier offered by Thisara Perera and thereafter the floodgates opened. “It was the turning point of their innings,” said Morgan. Perera finished with 49 from 20 balls and devastated Chris Jordan’s final over, which yielded 22 runs.

Alex Hales, as was the case in Chittagong when these two sides last met, was the main threat to the Sri Lankans. He hit 66 but, as Morgan ruefully admitted, “The batting stuttered around him and unfortunately he struggled to keep the strike.” Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s captain, bowled superbly once again.

The other England debutant, Harry Gurney, the left-arm paceman from Nottinghamshire, had a happier time than Carberry. He took two for 26 from his four overs and managed to look comfortable in this company. “He did magnificently well, taking his county form into international cricket,” said Morgan. “So it’s not all bleak.”


Vic Marks at The Oval

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