England's opening puzzle: Bopara, Prior or Bell?

Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 13:55 [IST]
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ChittaGong, Mar 8: Mercurial batsman Kevin Pietersen's injury-forced departure from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 has posed a serious problem for England as they now grapple with names for the batsman to partner skipper Andrew Strauss at the top of the order. While Eion Morgan has been rushed in to as KP's cover, there has to be someone in the middle-order who has to move up and face the new ball. So who will it be?

KP injury opens England's batting puzzle

England will next play Bangladesh on Mar 11 at ChittaGong and will seek to solve the problem before then as the group standings at this stage of the tournament do not provide them with enough room for experimentation.

In Matt Prior, they have a batsman who has previously donned the opener's role. But his last few outings weren't that impressive as a result KP was moved atop the order while Prior was dropped to the middle order to provide late innings impetus.

In the event that Prior is asked to revert back to his old slot, Morgan will have to come in at No.6 or No.7, which might just not suite his style of play. Though Morgan's big-hitting ability is beyond doubt, but the question remains as to how effective can he be when he is asked to go slam-bang or may be at times when he has to rally around with the tail.

Now that leaves them with the option of Ravi Bopara, who has so far been impressive in the tournament. And since he has the experience of opening in T20 games, he can also be counted to provide the thrust required at the top of the order. The middle-order spot left vacant in his promotion to the top of the order can be taken over by Morgan who can attack or defend depending upon the situation.

KP's injury came at a crucial juncture for England as the QF berths are still up for grabs and England's shock loss to Ireland has made it a tad bit difficult for them. It now remains to be seen if Bopara gets the nod to open the innings or do the Poms go for the hard-hitting Prior.

Going by Strauss' and Flower's penchance to ring in surprises, there are chances that they may even ask Ian Bell to open the innings, though at the moment it looks highly unlikely.

England will be more than eager to sort the issue and focus on winning the match, so that they can inch another step closer to the quarter-final berth.

OneIndia Cricket

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