CRICKET: Morgan enjoys extra pressure

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EOIN Morgan’s senior statesman role for England has perhaps been forced on him - but is one he is relishing as crunch time approaches in the ICC World Twenty20.

England retain realistic prospects of defending their title only thanks to Saturday’s much-needed win over New Zealand, and know that today’s final Super Eight match against Sri Lanka at Pallekele could yet finish their tournament early.

It was Sri Lanka who ended England’s interest in last year’s World Cup, with a 10-wicket quarter-final trouncing in Colombo, and they could repeat an unpalatable double in this competition.

England’s chances are enhanced, however, by the presence of Morgan - back to form after a lacklustre year in his favoured limited-overs format.

He restored England’s belief, although not in victory, with his unbeaten 71 from only 36 balls against West Indies last week; then, as Luke Wright hit the most telling blows against the Kiwis, the Irishman also helped to shepherd a successful chase. At 26, Morgan is one year Wright’s junior - and has also played seven fewer Twenty20 internationals.

“I think the role that I play within the side has changed over the last six to 12 months,” he said. “The responsibility on my shoulders is one that I enjoy.

“I relish batting in the middle order and towards the end of the innings, and nurturing guys along and getting us over the line.”