Shamik Das


Friday, March 30, 2007

Three and easy but England again fail to impress

Andrew Flintoff celebrates after mopping up the Irish tail to finish with figures of 4-43 to go alongside his 43 in the first innings

Guyana, World Cup, Super Eights: Ireland 218 (48.1 overs) lost to England 266/7 (50 overs) by 48 runs

England recorded their third win in a row with a workmanlike defeat of Ireland tonight, and though the result was never really in doubt England's fans will feel their team has to step up a gear if they're to have any chance of winning the tournament.

Following wins of seven wickets over Kenya and 51 runs over Canada England again did just enough to roll over Ireland, maintaining their impressive record of just one defeat to a so-called minnow in 54 World Cup matches - when Graham Gooch's side lost to Zimbabwe in Australia at the 1992 World Cup.

Under bright Guyanese skies Andrew Flintoff's display caught the eye, the all-rounder returning to form with figures of 4-43, in addition to 43 valuable runs with the bat.

Flintoff aside only Paul Collingwood (90 runs off 82 balls) and Kevin Pietersen (48 off 47) took the attack to the Irish part-timers, with Michael Vaughan again failing to contribute, scoring just six runs in half an hour.

Irishman Ed Joyce inexplicably shoulders arms and is clean bowled by former teammate Boyd Rankin for just 1    Ian Bell's tortoise-esque vigil comes to an end after getting out caught behind by Ireland keeper Niall O'Brien for a 74 ball innings of 31

But the England captain was far from alone in underperforming. Ed Joyce for some unknown reason shouldered arms and was clean bowled for 1, while Ian Bell (31 runs off 74 balls) laboured for an hour and a half before nicking a ball behind - probably to the relief of his teammates - as England struggled along to 104 for 3 at the halfway point of their innings.

Only some fierce hitting from Collingwood, Flintoff, Paul Nixon (19 off 15) and Ravi Bopara (10 off 5) late on helped England post their insurmountable target, the last ten overs realising 94 runs.

Sri Lanka on Wednesday will be England's real test, and anything short of victory could spell the beginning of the end for Duncan Fletcher's men.

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