England registered a comprehensive 108-run victory against Zimbabwe in a Champions Trophy Group B league match today, sending warning signals to India ahead of their crucial match on Sunday.
England rode on a blazing century by opener Marcus Trescothick to pile up 298 for eight in their stipulated 50 overs, the highest score of the tournament so far.
In response, Zimbabwe, who were docked two overs for slow bowling rate, were restricted to a mere 190 for nine in 48 overs in another lop-sided encounter of this 12-nation tournament.
England now take on India, described by captain Nasser Hussain in a TV interview today as the "favourites" to win the tournament, for a place in the semi-final
It was a totally dominating performance by England who proved far superior to their opponents in every department of the game. England's hero of the day obviously was Trescothick who hit 119 runs of just 102 balls with 11 fours and two sixes to set up his team's best-ever total against Zimbabwe.
Hussain came up with a solid 75 and was associated in a 141-run second wicket stand with Trescothick, while Owais Shah (25) and Alec Stewart (23 not out) also chipped in with useful contributions towards the end.
In contrast, Zimbabwe innings never flourished and except for their old warhorses Heath Streak, who remained unbeaten on 50, and Andy Flower (44), none of the batsmen were able to settle down against a disciplined English attack.
Zimbabwe's decline started early with opener Alistair Campbell (2) and Grant Flower (7) being dismicsed when only 14 runs had been scored.
Andy Flower, who had hit a fine 145 against India, tried to rebuild the innings in the company of Dion Ebrahim but the partnership was worth only 41 runs. Matthew Hoggard, who had claimed both the earlier wickets, had Ebrahim (20) caught by debutant Ian Blackwell.
Andy Flower was then associated in the best partnership of the innings with former captain Stuart Carlisle, the two adding 47 runs for the fourth wicket.
Zimbabwe, who were almost out of the game by then with the required run rate going over eight an over, suffered their biggest jolt when Andy Flower became the first of Ronnie Irani's four victims.
Zimbabwe never recovered from that setback and kept losing wickets at regular intervals after that. Streak only brought some excitement in the lost battle with some big hits towards the end. He smashed two successive sixes against Blackwell in the 46th over and also hit three boundaries in his 58-ball knock.
For England, Irani claimed four wicket for 37 runs while Hoggard took three for 25. However, it was Trescothick who was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his brilliant knock.
Trescothick took charge of the England innings right from the start and played an attacking innings throughout. England had already raced to 46 runs in 5.3 overs when opener Nick Knight was dismissed for eight.
Trescothick and Hussain then clobbered the Zimbabwe attack for a little more than 25 overs, adding 141 runs in the process.
Till they were at the crease, England looked heading for a total in excess of 300. But the fall of Hussain, and sometime later of Trescothick, saw Zimbabwe pulling themselves back a bit.
Hussain was clean bowled by Heath Streak while trying to pull a delivery that was not short enough. Ronnie Irani (4) swept Grant Flower straight into the hands of Alistair Campbell at backward short leg three overs later as England slipped to 200 for three.
Trescothick completed his 100 off just 89 balls with 11 fours and a six and later lofted Grant Flower for his second six. But the very next ball, he was clean bowled while attempting a similar shot.