x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Wrong call by Broad as Bell absence felt

Debutant captain admits hosts did not score enough as Sri Lankans win by nine wickets.

Stuart Broad made a tactical error by ignoring Ian Bell. Philip Brown / Reuters
Stuart Broad made a tactical error by ignoring Ian Bell. Philip Brown / Reuters

Stuart Broad remains in the spotlight, and for all the wrong reasons. During the Test series against Sri Lanka, the lanky speedster's performance with the ball was the subject of much debate.

A modest haul of eight wickets from the three Tests, at an average of 48.75, led many to question his place in the squad.

Making his first appearance as England's Twenty20 captain yesterday, Broad provided more fodder to his detractors with a decision that will surely be disputed over the coming days.

Ian Bell's average during the Test series against Sri Lanka was an eye-popping 331, but that was not enough to convince Broad to include the "Shermanator" in his squad for yesterday's T20 international in Bristol.

Instead, he opted for the rusty duo of Michael Lumb (2) and Ravi Bopara (19), and handed Samit Patel (0) a debut. Together they added 21 to England's score of 136 for nine.

With Mahela Jayawardene anchoring the run-chase, Sri Lanka reached their target comfortably in 17.2 overs, losing just one wicket. Jayawardene was there from start to finish, scoring a classy 72, while Kumar Sangakkara contributed an unbeaten 43; together they added 97 for the second wicket in 13.1 overs.

Broad agreed that Bell has been in form, "but with Ravi we get an extra bowling option, which you sometimes need in T20". Bopara bowled two overs for 12.

"At the end of the day we didn't get enough runs," Broad said. "We didn't execute the plans we wanted to, and of course [Lasith] Malinga bowled very well at the end. We didn't hit enough boundaries in the last six or seven overs."

While Bell watched from the dugout, England, the reigning Twenty20 world champions, turned in a disappointing batting performance. Only three of their batsmen entered double-digits - Bopara, Eoin Morgan (47) and Kevin Pietersen (41), with the last two adding 83 runs from 8.5 for the third wicket; the rest contributed 63 from 11.1 overs. Pietersen and Morgan came together in the third over, with 12 on the board, after England's two openers made an unhappy return to international cricket.

Lumb, such an important member of England's 2010 WT20 triumph, could not last beyond six balls. Playing his first match since the final of the WT20 in Barbados last May, the left-hander departed after a wild swing at Suranga Lakmal that landed in the hands of Malinga.

Craig Kieswetter (4), who has not appeared in an England jersey since September, also looked far from convincing in his seven-ball stay at the crease. Rushing down the wicket to Nuwan Kulasekara, he swung hard and looped the ball to mid-off.

That brought Morgan to the crease and he deposited his third delivery into the stands; the fourth was muscled down the ground.

Pietersen also looked in great touch at the other end, stepping down the pitch to drive or shuffling across the stumps and pulling from outside the off.

Morgan also had a bit of good fortune coming his way when Angelo Matthews dropped him with the score of 23; England were on 59 at the time and finished 10 overs with 67.

Next over, the duo shifted gears, taking 24 runs off a Thisara Perera over, with Morgan pulling two full-toss into the stands and Pietersen swatting the final delivery down the ground.

A concerned Sri Lanka captain Thilina Kandamby then threw the ball to his trusted sharpshooter Malinga and the "Slinga" struck immediately as Morgan pulled him to Jayawardene deep square.

Sanath Jayasuriya, five days short of his 42nd birthday and the oldest man to feature in a Twenty20 international, then struck in his first over, hitting the stumps as Pietersen stepped away and England were four down for 101 in 12.5 overs; they managed only 35 from the remaining overs and a left-arm spinner got the better of Pietersen yet again. Patel, who played 11 one-day internationals in 2008, was in the pavilion after three balls, beaten by Jayawardene's direct hit as he made a lazy effort to regain his crease. Bopara, after scratching around for 22 balls, found his stumps scattered by Jayasuriya.

England's hope depended on Graeme Swann doing a Jayasuriya. They needed a first-over wicket "special" from the off-spinner. Swann, however, went wicketless in his four overs and Jayawardene and Sangakkara were hardly bothered by the others.

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi with agencies