Joe Root’s second century of the World Cup helped England cruise to victory over the West Indies, but the celebratory mood in Southampton was punctured by injury scares for captain Eoin Morgan and opener Jason Roy.
A commanding eight-wicket win against dangerous opponents was important in firming up England’s semi-final prospects, though seeing two of their best batsmen limp from the field was a bitter pill to swallow.
Roy hurt his left hamstring sprinting at cover and Morgan headed straight for the pavilion after a back spasm, with neither man taking their usual places in the batting order.
England will be desperate for positive news from the treatment room but the pair were not missed on the day, a modest chase of 213 proving a walk in the park for Root, who opened for the first time in his international one-day career and made 100 not out in 94 deliveries.
Root had already played an unlikely role with the ball, taking two wickets with his occasional off-spin, and the role reversals continued with a Chris Woakes cameo at number three.
Having never batted higher than seven in his previous 91 appearances, the all-rounder was handed an emergency elevation and chipped in with an assured 40.
The game was brilliantly set up by the bowlers, Barbados-born seamer Jofra Archer and Mark Wood delivering with pace and purpose as they shared combined figures of six for 48.
Archer’s first appearance against the team he had represented at Under-19 level had been much debated, but he took the moment in his stride as the Windies slid from 144 for three to 212 all out.
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Australia captain Aaron Finch has little doubt Mitch Marsh would be ready to slot into the side if Marcus Stoinis’ side strain leads to his withdrawal from their World Cup squad.
The injury Stoinis suffered in the loss against India last weekend led to the all-rounder missing out as Australia returned to winning ways against Pakistan and will also sideline him for Saturday’s clash against Sri Lanka at the Oval.
His involvement for the rest of the tournament will be decided in the next few days but Marsh is on standby after linking up with the Australian party.
Finch, flanked by Australia fielding coach Brad Haddin’s two young sons at his press conference, said: “(Stoinis) won’t be available again. He hasn’t bowled yet in his recovery over the last couple of days.
“So having four days between this game and the next game, I think that will be the ideal time to really test him out and assess him.
“But I think over the next five, six days there will be a call made on that, just based on what he can and can’t do.
“We’ve seen him batting and running, no problem. Just he hasn’t tried to bowl yet. Just waiting for the injury to settle down a bit more.”
Marsh was due to travel with Australia’s A side to England this week but flew over a couple of days earlier as cover for Stoinis.
Marsh has played no professional cricket since March while his last 50-over appearance was 18 months ago.
But if Cricket Australia does decide to trigger a formal request to remove Stoinis then Finch would back Marsh to be ready to face Bangladesh at Trent Bridge next Thursday.
Finch said: “The short answer is yes. There is confidence that Mitch will come in and do well if selected, if Stoinis doesn’t recover properly.”
The opener believes Australia, despite three wins from their opening four encounters, have yet to hit top gear in the tournament.
He said: “To come up against different opposition, you’re facing different challenges all the time.
“I don’t think we’ve gone anywhere near our best, which is still a good thing, that we’ve got six points on the board while not playing anywhere near our best cricket.
“But as long as we’re improving, and continue to go up and not go backwards, I think that’s the key. What per cent of 100 per cent game that you get to I think is irrelevant, as long as it’s improving along the way.”
Dimuth Karunaratne insists Sri Lanka are fully prepared despite a lack of action as they look to get their World Cup back on track against Australia at the Oval.
The inclement weather which has led to four washouts in the space of seven days has hit Sri Lanka hardest, with two of their matches abandoned.
Since they last took to the field against Afghanistan on June 4 in a rain-affected encounter, Australia have played three times but Karunaratne is convinced the lack of game time will not be a hindrance.
Indeed, on what is usually optional training the day before the match, their full squad participated.
“We can’t control the weather,” Karunaratne said at his pre-match press conference. “We couldn’t play those two matches, but we are prepared for the Australian game, and today we have a practice.
“Normally today is an optional day, but we want to train harder before we play against the Australians, so that’s why we are here.”
The Sri Lanka captain is braced for a barrage of short balls from Australia, adding: “I think we know they are going to go really hard against us.
“Some players, they can play really good for the short balls. Some of them, they can’t. But if they think they can go for it, I will say to the players ‘yeah, go for it’, because we need runs, as well.”
Karunaratne confirmed veteran paceman Lasith Malinga will be available after returning briefly to Sri Lanka for his mother-in-law’s funeral while fellow fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep could come into contention if he successfully passes some fielding drills.