Colombo: England registered a comprehensive 108-run victory over Zimbabwe in the Champions Trophy pool B league match here Wednesday, sending warning signals to India ahead of their crucial match Sunday.
England rode a blazing century by opener Marcus Trescothick to pile up 298 for eight in their 50 overs, highest of the tournament so far.
In response, Zimbabwe, who were docked two overs for slow bowling rate, were restricted to a mere 190 for nine in 48 overs in another lop-sided encounter of this 12-nation tournament.
England now take on India, described by captain Nasser Hussain in a TV interview Wednesday as the “favourites” to win the tournament, for a place in the semi-final.
It was a totally dominating performance by England who proved far superior to their opponents. England’s hero of the day obviously was Trescothick who hit 119 runs of just 102 balls with 11 fours and two sixes to set up his team’s best-ever total against Zimbabwe.
Captain Nasser Hussain came up with a solid 75 and was associated in a 141-run second wicket stand with Trescothick, while Owais Shah (25) and Alec Stewart (23 not out) also chipped in with useful contributions towards the end.
In contrast, Zimbabwe innings never flourished and except for their old warhorses Heath Streak, who remained unbeaten on 50, and Andy Flower (44). None of the other batsmen were able to settle down against a disciplined English attack.
Zimbabwe’s decline started early with opener Alistair Campbell (2) and Grant Flower (7) being dismissed when only 14 runs had been scored.
Andy Flower, who had hit a fine 145 against India, tried to rebuild the innings in the company of Dion Ebrahim but the partnership was worth only 41 runs.
Andy was associated in the best partnership of the innings with former captain Stuart Carlisle, the two adding 47 runs for the fourth wicket.
Zimbabwe suffered their biggest jolt when Andy became the first of Ronnie Irani’s four victims.
Zimbabwe never recovered from that setback.
For England, Irani claimed four wicket for 37 runs while Hoggard took three for 25. However, it was Trescothick who was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match for his brilliant knock.
Zimbabwe, having lost their last eight games to England, had hoped to make a turnaround, but Trescothick took early command with a flurry of fours to dominate the new ball attack of skipper Streak and Douglas Hondo on a flat pitch.
Trescothick reached his fourth one-day century in only 89 balls and hit 11 fours and two sixes in all. The batsman, who drove fluently through the covers and pulled firmly, was eventually bowled by left-arm spinner Grant Flower in the 39th over, trying to make room for an off-side shot.
His partnership with Hussain was England’s highest for the second wicket in one-dayers against Zimbabwe, bettering the previous best of 134, while England’s total was also their best ODI total against the Africans.
Later Hussain downplayed England’s brilliant performance, saying the team would have to perform even better to beat an in-form Indian side when the two meet in their final pool B match Sunday. “It is going to be a great game and we are looking forward to it. The India side is in fine form,” said Hussain after England’s drubbing of Zimbabwe.
He said: “We have many young players. But we must ensure that the inexperience should not affect our performance.”
n Scorecard on page 24