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Eoin Morgan downplayed finding some semblance of form at the T20 World Cup but took immense comfort in England battling away in a situation he suspects was “as bad as it’s going to be” in a 26-run win against Sri Lanka
Morgan came into the contest averaging a paltry 12.71 from 13 T20 internationals this year, having endured a miserable conclusion to the Indian Premier League with eight single-digit scores in his last nine innings there.
He looked especially ill-at-ease on a slow, low Sharjah surface although so too did the in-form Jos Buttler as they were suffocated by some canny bowling and smart field placings by Sri Lanka on a muggy evening.
While Buttler’s maiden T20 international ton catapulted England up to 163 for four from 47 for three at halfway, Morgan clattered three sixes as he accelerated from nine off 20 balls to finish with 40 from 36 deliveries.
Asked whether he was feeling in better touch towards the end of his innings, Morgan said: “Me? No, no. This ground is very challenging. It’s just because the ball’s older, a bit darker and the bounce is really low.
“It’s hard to get going and be free-flowing. Even Jos who’s in unbelievable form really did find it unbelievably tough and when I got to the wicket he talked about just getting something going.
“Even he struggled to rotate the strike. After facing a lot of balls they were due to bowl a bad one. But it’s good, it’s runs on the board, it’s a contribution to winning the game and batting with one of my best mates.
“It was nice being at the other end when he started getting going, he really is unbelievable. Without that absolutely unbelievable knock we’d have been nowhere.”
A 112-run stand between Buttler and Morgan was crucial for England, who had to confront moisture on the pitch and outfield because of evening dew and the loss of Tymal Mills to injury before claiming a fourth win of the campaign.
Mills will discover when he undergoes a scan in the next day or two whether the tight right quad that led to the left-arm fast bowler limping off the field will curtail his tournament prematurely.
England will be loathe to take risks with Mills ahead of their final Super 12s group game against South Africa, with qualification to the semi-finals all but assured due to their haul of eight points and superior net run-rate.
They maintained their 100 per cent record after skittling Sri Lanka for 137, having been forced to set and defend a total for the first time following commanding wins over the West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia batting second.
On whether it was significant to win batting first, Morgan said: “I think it is. Even if it’s not a win, I think it’s important to experience the challenges that every other side has to overcome.”
It was nice being at the other end when he started getting going, he really is unbelievable. Without that absolutely unbelievable knock we’d have been nowhere
Eoin Morgan on Jos Buttler
Morgan, though, feels the issues that faced England on Monday night might be a worst-case scenario so he admitted it could be that the batters up the tempo earlier against the Proteas at Sharjah, even if the tactic backfires.
He said: “Considering that’s I think as bad as it’s going to be, if we’re playing a side that comes harder for longer, does more for longer, say South Africa on Saturday, we’ll have to ask questions of ourselves earlier.
“We might have to try and post a bigger score and possibly risk posting a lower score at the same time, so things to juggle. Looking back at it now I think things worked out alright for us.
“If one of our bowlers hadn’t have gone down I think we would have been in a reasonably strong position, but asking more of the guys I think actually worked out well as an experience.”
Morgan is renowned for his unflappable demeanour on the field but even he showed emotion in the clutch moments as Sri Lanka’s challenge subsided, and he added with a grin: “We’re having fun. I might not look like it, but yeah.”