Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, in Colombo, on Thursday
London: England flew to Sri Lanka on Thursday to begin the defence of their World Twenty20 title, with captain Stuart Broad boosted by a season-ending victory over South Africa.
The hectic nature of the current international schedule means the end of the domestic summer and the first overseas assignment of the winter are separated by just a few hours’ sleep.
But the transition will be all the smoother for Broad’s side after they recorded a comfortable 28-run win against South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
Poor weather meant the final game of the NatWest T20 series was reduced to just 11 overs per side, and eye-catching knocks from Craig Kieswetter (50 from 32 balls) and Jos Buttler (32 not out in 10) saw the hosts to a winning score of 118 for five.
That ensured a difficult summer ended with a 1-1 draw in the shortest format and Broad left the scene in a positive frame of mind.
“To get on that flight with a win under our belt is brilliant,” said Broad.
“It was awesome to see and a great confidence boost for the squad going to Sri Lanka. We’ve got eight of our World Twenty20 winners here and guys who are performing now, so I’m really excited. We have some talent in this changing room. It’s important we believe we can do good things and we’ve got that belief now.”
Although Kieswetter top-scored in the match, Buttler’s innings was the standout performance — a 15-minute cameo that contained three sixes and two fours.
Buttler’s mixture of invention and aggression also contributed to Wayne Parnell conceding 32 in his final over — the second costliest over in Twenty20s at this level.
Broad, who tops that list after being taken for 36 by Yuvraj Singh in 2007, was suitably impressed.
“We knew we had hitters to come in and Jos played a game-changing innings,” said Broad.
“We’ve seen this fella do it for Somerset time and time again so to see him do it in an England shirt was brilliant. It pretty much won us the game. We look for guys who can change the momentum of games and Jos really did win us the game.
“Despite the efforts of Buttler and Kieswetter, defeated Proteas skipper AB de Villiers expects England’s prospects in the coming weeks to centre around their attack.
“It certainly wasn’t our best performance...We were pretty much outplayed,” said De Villiers after a defeat that saw England replace South Africa at No.1 in the international Twenty20 rankings.
“It was disappointing but there are a lot of positives to hang onto throughout this summer. We’ve played some good cricket and it’s not all doom and gloom going to Sri Lanka.”
De Villiers, asked what South Africa learnt from the brief encounters, replied: “Quite a lot actually. At this level you have to adapt no matter what situation you find yourself in.
“I hear there is quite a bit of rain around in Sri Lanka at the moment and we might get a few rain delayed games and it might cost you the World Cup (World Twenty20) if you are not prepared for it.
“We have played a couple now, one good, one not so good. We’ve had a taste for it and will be better prepared now.”
De Villiers added England would be a threat in Sri Lanka but did not discount South Africa’s chances. “For sure, they will be a threatů Their bowling line-up has been one of the best in the world for quite a few years now,” de Villiers said.