Eoin Morgan’s poor form continues...thank heavens for Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler

“YOU’VE given me out, boss?”

England's captain Eoin Morgan is out of form heading into the T20 World Cup. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

So enquired a perplexed England captain Eoin Morgan to umpire Marais Erasmus after he was adjudged lbw trying to reverse sweep the New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.

It never rains but it pours… Morgan, desperately seeking form after averaging just 11 at the Indian Premier League, looked to have hit the ball only for Erasmus to send him packing for 10 from 11 deliveries.

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Sodhi looked vaguely embarrassed by it all, and with no DRS available in these T20 warm-up games, Morgan walked off with a rueful smile in the heat of the Abu Dhabi day.

The smile looked far more natural come fixture’s end, England winning by 13 runs after successfully defending what looked like a vulnerable total of 163-6, underpinned by Jos Buttler’s 73 from 51 balls and useful cameos from Jonny Bairstow (30 from 21) and Sam Billings (27 not out from 17), with Sodhi the most successful bowler (3-26).

But after cruising to 81-2 in reply inside nine overs, thanks to Martin Guptill’s 41 from 20 deliveries, including two sixes in the opening over off Liam Livingstone, the Kiwis collapsed to 87-6 and then to 103-9 before a last wicket stand of 47 between Sodhi (25 not out) and Todd Astle lifted them to 150 all-out, Mark Wood taking 4-23 and Adil Rashid 3-18.

And so England head into Saturday’s opening game in the tournament proper, against the holders West Indies in Dubai, in better fettle than had seemed likely when Guptill was peppering the boundary after England had lost their opening warm-up match against the favourites India by seven wickets.

This was a good comeback by England, with Rashid to the fore as he had Guptill caught at long-on and Mark Chapman held at slip before bowling Mitchell Santner.

Wood generated plenty of pace and Tymal Mills was economical and varied things well. New Zealand, in contrast, looked fairly out of sorts, hoping that it will be a case of alright on the night when the proper stuff starts.

Buttler was brilliant after England were sent in, crashing 11 fours and two sixes, but there were failures for Jason Roy, Dawid Malan and Livingstone, along with Morgan.

Only Buttler and Bairstow inspire confidence with the bat going into the main fare, with Billings providing some keen food for thought.