x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Champions Trophy round-up: Jayawardene dares England to scoop Malinga

Shot risky and can hurt batsmen, former captain warns ahead of Thursday clash. And India coach flies home after news of mother's death.

Joe Root is among a few England batsmen to employ the unconventional scoop. Adrian Dennis / AFP
Joe Root is among a few England batsmen to employ the unconventional scoop. Adrian Dennis / AFP

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka middle-order batsman, has urged England to play the scoop shot against Lasith Malinga in Thursday's ICC Champions Trophy clash – if they dare.

The Group A rivals meet at The Oval with the hosts, armed with a victory over Australia, seeking a place in the semi-finals while Sri Lanka know that defeat will send them home.

How England – and in particular scoop-shot specialists Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and at times even Joe Root – play the formidable Malinga may be pivotal in the outcome.

"Any shot is harder against reverse swing, but the scoop is a big part of my game," Buttler said. "I practise it a lot and if I feel the situation is right I won't be afraid to play it.

"I played against Malinga in the Champions League [Twenty20 competition] for Somerset against Mumbai and also in the World T20. I didn't score many against him in the Champions League."

When these quotes were relayed to Jayawardene, he smiled.

"Let them try to play the scoop shot against Malinga and we'll see if it's possible," he said. "It's a big chance if you want to go for it. It's a calculated risk and a few guys have tried it against him. Some have come off and some haven't. Some have got hurt. I remember a few tried and got hit on the toe and hit on the wrist, so you've got to be very careful."

Neither Jayawardene nor Tillakaratne Dilshan, his fellow batsman, play the scoop shot against Malinga, who is famed for his yorkers. "I don't and Dilshan doesn't play it against him either, not at all and not in the nets. Why would you want to do that? That's ridiculous," he said.

"Guys have taken chances and it's a calculated risk. I wish them all the best with it, I wouldn't do it against Malinga but if they want to do it then that's up to them."

Sri Lanka lost their opening Champions Trophy match to New Zealand on Sunday by one wicket and Jayawardene has called for an improvement against England. "It was a good game against New Zealand and obviously we should have scored a few more runs on that wicket," he said.

"Our bowlers brought us back into the game and Lasith was fantastic. How can I put this politely? If we go out of this tournament due to a few mistakes then it is going to be very sad. We need to be more consistent all round.

"We definitely fancy our chances against England. It's a great competition against the top teams and every game is crucial so you have to not make mistakes on the day.

"We're backing ourselves because most of the guys are in good nick and we just need to believe in ourselves and go out and perform with some good cricket."

India coach's mother dies

Duncan Fletcher, the India coach, will fly to South Africa on Tuesday following the death of his mother, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced.

Former Zimbabwe international and England coach Fletcher saw India beat the West Indies by eight wickets at the The Oval on Tuesday to book their place in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.

He will now fly to Cape Town to attend his mother's funeral before flying back for India's final Champions Trophy group game against arch-rivals Pakistan in Birmingham, central England, on Saturday.

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