Sun, Apr 01, 2007 - Page 23 News List

England sidestep Irish `banana skin'

FREDDY'S BACK Paul Collingwood's runs and Andrew Flintoff's wickets helped Michael Vaughan's men beat off a determined challenge from the World Cup novices

AP , GEORGETOWN, GUYANA

England's Monty Panesar, right, and Paul Nixon celebrate the dismissal of Ireland's Kevin O'Brien, not pictured, during their Super Eights match at the Cricket World Cup in Georgetown, Guyana, on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Another significant middle-order innings from Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff's best all-round performance of this World Cup helped England start its Super 8s campaign with a 48-run win over Ireland.

Anything but a win on Friday would have been a disaster for England, advancing from the first round for the first time since 1996, against the World Cup debutants.

Collingwood's 90 runs from 82 balls and Flintoff's 43 lifted England to 266 for seven after a subdued start. Flintoff returned to take four wickets as Ireland was bowled out for 218 in the 49th over.

"Today's game was a banana skin," Vaughan said. "We only had two points to gain and the Irish could play with no fear."

"But we thought the runs we got this morning were going to be too many -- 266, thanks to a great innings by Paul Collingwood, was very good on that wicket," he added.

Ireland started as if it only had everything to gain. Paceman Boyd Rankin bowled former teammate Ed Joyce with his first ball for one and removed Michael Vaughan for six to have England in trouble at 23-2.

Kevin Pietersen (48) and Ian Bell (31) steadied the innings before Collingwood and Flintoff combined in an 81-run fifth-wicket stand that gave England control.

Collingwood belted three sixes and eight boundaries during his second half century of the tournament before he was run out in the last over.

With Collingwood in charge, England piled on 65 runs in its last five overs.

Ireland's reply never gathered momentum after losing wickets with the total at six and 11 despite a defiant 63 from Niall O'Brien and a 61-run third-wicket stand he shared with opener William Porterfield (31).

A late cameo from skipper Trent Johnston of 27 from 21 balls contained two clouted sixes and moved the score from 139-6 to 197-7 before he was clean bowled by Flintoff.

Flintoff had Andrew White (38) trapped lbw in the dying overs and picked off two tailenders to finish with 4-43.

Panesar returned 2-31 in conditions suited to slow bowling.

Sajid Mahmood went wicketless, but his brilliant run out of Eoin Morgan (2) with a reflex throw at the non-striker's end from his own bowling had Ireland reeling at 11-2.

Johnston said it was a good sign for Ireland that Vaughan was forced to bring Flintoff back into the attack.

"We were scoring at a good clip -- who knows what would have happened if Whitey and I were still there in the last over," Johnston said. "The way we performed in the first 40 overs was outstanding, but then it swung more in their favor -- we'll learn from that."

The English openers failed, with Joyce leaving a Rankin delivery that pitched on a length and cut back slightly to take out off stump.

After Vaughan went, caught behind off Rankin, Pietersen and Bell shared a 66-run partnership in 15 overs until the O'Brien brothers combined to halt the stand.

Kevin O'Brien ended Bell's 71-ball knock when the England No. 3 brushed an edge off the back of his glove to wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien.

McCallan, the Ireland vice-captain, bowled an economical 10-over spell, picking up a wicket for 38 runs and tying the England fifth-wicket pair down in the middle overs.

Collingwood bided his time in a stand with Flintoff and started to unleash some powerful strokes in a 51-run partnership with Paul Nixon, who hit 19 from 15 balls.

Flintoff hit a composed 43 from 62 balls before chopping an attempted cut shot onto his stumps off Johnston.

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