Eng vs SL, Men’s T20 World Cup

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Perhaps the only downside to England’s landslide wins in their opening three T20 World Cup matches has been the lack of match practice given to their middle order. Eoin Morgan, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali have so far faced 13 balls between them, all in their opener against the West Indies, with no one below No.6 yet to reach the crease.
Thankfully, Adil Rashid has been in the net to quench his teammates’ hunger in innovative ways, offering to buy dinner for any hitter who can hit a designated ball for six. This is a challenge that Livingstone has already succeeded in meeting.

“It was four or six on the last ball, and he hit me for a huge six,” said Rashid, on the eve of England’s fourth game against Sri Lanka in Sharjah. “I like to go in the net and work like that, with four or six to win. It gives the hitter and myself a little more thought.

“I think it was kind of sushi,” Rashid added of his teammate’s menu choice. “I know he ordered a lot more than usual anyway.

The anecdote offers a telling glimpse into the calm, confident and collected state of mind the England team have adopted for this campaign, and further reinforces the impression – so far only revealed by their bowling demonstrations – that Livingstone is emerging as one of the most important players on the team.

Livingstone lost the second ball to 1 against the West Indies as England stumbled in their run to wrap up an easy target of 56, and that followed a fallow run on those same surfaces for the Rajasthan Royals in recent years. IPL towers. But he didn’t have a chance to worry about this aspect of his game, as he was too busy getting stuck in his second string instead. Against Australia, he produced the most economical numbers of the night of 1 for 15 in four overs, which took his combined tournament numbers to a remarkable 3 for 30 in seven overs to date.

And judging by his Sky Sports interview following that demolition job, Livingstone knows he’s living the dream. Watching Jos Buttler’s “genius” up close was a “pleasure,” he said, but it was also an opportunity to work alongside a trio of outstanding bowling mentors in Rashid, Moeen and Jeetan. England’s spin coach Patel – all of whom have been able to provide him with invaluable technical and tactical insight, as he hones his rare ability to serve offspins and legbreaks with such prowess.

“Learning the art of spinning is pretty cool, especially to go with my stick,” Livingstone said. “It’s a perfect scenario for me. I did a lot of work with Jeets, he was brilliant with me. He tried to change me as a bowler, to reach a much better length, and not to miss full, and learned too bad for Mo and Rash. I have a spinner and a legacy which are probably two of the best in the world for many years now.

“So I’m lucky enough to be able to work with these guys day in and day out. It’s something that I really enjoy and luckily all that hard work is starting to pay off. To be able to spin the ball away from it all. batting when teams are under pressure is a good thing to have. I’ve worked really hard on it for times like this. “

His emergence with the ball also covered one of the 15-man England side’s apparent oversights. The decision not to bring in a specialist third spinner such as Hampshire’s Liam Dawson – an unused reserve in the 50-year-old World Cup and a working left arm that rarely lets anyone down – implied that England might need some help. ‘go much deeper into their sewing options to make sure they don’t end up a light melon under the wrong circumstances.

Instead, these were the options available to Morgan thanks to Livingstone’s reliability, he didn’t even need a single Moeen against Australia, although his performances in the first two games arguably made it up to him. of him the English player of the tournament to date.

“Livi has definitely come,” Rashid said. “He keeps it very simple which is great for a spin thrower. He knows his game. The game is gone from 10, 15 years ago now where people are bowling, their legs left-handed and right-handed, and he’s definitely got that skill. He’s definitely very clear-headed, he’s got a good temper and he’s also determined to improve. And he’s played exceptionally well so far this tournament, so for Morgs , that’s another big plus. “

Instead of Moeen, it was Rashid who took first on the power play against Australia, largely to ensure that Aaron Finch doesn’t capitalize on the offspinner turning the ball into his hitting arc. . And although Finch endured until the 19th inning, meaning Moeen was not called up at any stage of the inning, the tactic was justified by his slow return of 44 to 49 balls – nine of which came from the 11. deliveries he had made. opposite Livingstone.

“Whatever decisions the captain makes, we are all happy,” said Rashid. “As a bowler you always want to bowl, you always want to be in it, and some days you don’t have to. There’s nothing personal about it, it’s just the situation of the game. This is how Morgs works, and he goes on his instincts. “

Morgan’s handling of a heavy attack from the Kolkata Knight Riders was a key factor in their progress to the IPL final last month, and Rashid confirmed that his approach to England options was not simply a case of last minute intuitions.

“Me and Morgs have spoken over time,” he said. “These are certain conditions and circumstances where I may be forced to open the bowling alley first. It wasn’t a surprise, it was more of a ‘here first try and see what you can do’ thing. do “. It’s not about walking on the field and the captain says” you’re bowling first “and that’s a bit of a shock to you. You can get a feel for how you want to go. take it. “

Rashid on the power play was a regular ploy during England’s five-game series in India in March, and he insisted his approach is largely unaffected by which stage he took. appealed.

“The game plan is very similar whether I’m bowling on the power play or later,” he said. “Obviously you accept that they can hit some fours and some sixes. But if you have the right mindset to create chances for the team, you can create doubt in the batsmen: ‘is that a bad one? ‘one, is that a leggy Is that a slider?’

“So my state of mind, whether I bowling first or last, nothing really changes. “

The same, you feel, is true of an England side who could hardly have made a more emphatic statement at this point in their campaign.

Andrew Miller is the UK editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket


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