Dismal England limp past Canada

England stumbled to a 52-run win over Canada at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia to record their first victory of the World Cup, but against opponents who Kenya had cruised past four days before, they were far from convincing.

A series of no-balls and wides from veteran Anderson Cummins propelled the Test nation to a swift beginning after John Davison won the toss and elected to field. Both Ed Joyce and Michael Vaughan looked well within their comfort zone as England cruised through the powerplays at five per over, until Vaughan chipped the last ball of the 20th over to his opposite captain at point.

The England skipper, once again throwing away an ODI start, at least had an entry in a team competition to find the silliest way of giving away a wicket – a follow up to the silliest thing to do on a pedalo at 4am – but by the end of the 50 overs, he would end sixth out of six batsmen dismissed.

Ian Bell spooned Sunil Dhaniram high in the air to waste yet another start, and Ed Joyce missed a reverse sweep to lose his off stump. Kevin Pietersen followed in equally uninspiring fashion, looping a return catch to the same bowler – who finished with impressive figures of 3/41 – before Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara, in for the drunken and disgraced Flintoff, restored routine.

The two allrounders added 81 for the fifth wicket in 11 overs before Bopara attempted an even less dignified reverse than Joyce’s earlier effort. Jamie Dalrymple came and went, switching a sweep from a full three feet outside off into a tentative curtain-rail guide to the tumbling Ashish Bagai, but Paul Nixon was in little mood for misplaced finesse.

The Leicestershire wicketkeeper thundered 23 from just eight balls, striking four fours before ending the innings with a six over midwicket to end Cummins’ disappointing day and push England to a score of 279 that they had barely threatened nor deserved.

When Liam Plunkett disposed of Geoff Barnett – leaving a ball on off stump – and Bagai, who picked out Pietersen at third man, Nixon’s late runs looked insignificant, doubly so when John Davison’s cameo ended in Ian Bell’s hands on the cover ropes.

Yet England didn’t have the depth or killer touch to work through the associate middle order. Ravi Bopara’s toil accounted for Ian Billcliff with a ball that seamed away into the off-stump, but Abdool Samad and Ashif Mulla added nearly 100 for the fifth wicket in good time. With two-thirds of the innings gone, Canada needed 120 at seven-and-a-half per over, and the Americans harboured hopes of the third shock of the weekend.

It wasn’t to be. Mulla chanced his arm once too often against Bopara’s medium pace and Nixon mopped up behind the stumps, and his long-term partner fell three balls later, Monty Panesar trapping him in front. The game slid back into mediocrity for the final stretch, only brightened by a sharp run out as Bopara and Collingwood combined well once again, and Canada ended their allotted overs on a respectable 227 for 7.

The defeat eliminated John Davison’s men from the tournament, but for England there is the small matter of a win-or-bust match up against Kenya next Saturday, and on current form there is every chance of the 2007 World Cup adding another famous name to its list of upsets.

England 279/7
Ed Joyce 66, Paul Collingwood 62*
Sunil Dhaniram 3/41, Abdool Samad 1/31

Canada 227/7
Ashif Mulla 59, Abdool Samad 34
Ravi Bopara 2/43, Liam Plunkett 2/46

England won by 52 runs

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Sunil Dhaniram (Canada) – 30 and 3/41

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