ICC Champions Trophy 2013:

Jonathan Trott top-scored with 76 against Sri Lanka at the Oval © Getty Images

By Sarang Bhalerao

London: Jun 13, 2013

England scored a challenging total of 293 for seven against Sri Lanka in Group ‘A’ match of ICC Champions Trophy 2013 encounter at the Oval on Thursday.

Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to field in the day-night encounter. The England captain, Alastair Cook, admitted that, in overcast conditions, he would have chosen to bowl first as well.

Half centuries from captain Cook (59) Jonathan Trott (76) and Joe Root (68) set up a solid foundation. Ravi Bopara’s final over heroics — 28 runs ensured England posted a challenging total.

England openers — Cook and Ian Bell began cautiously against the swinging ball. The conditions were overcast and Sri Lanka looked eager to pick up an early wicket. Both the Sri Lankan opening bowlers — Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga were getting appreciable movement in the air. But the openers negotiated the new ball.

Bell played a couple of aggressive shots off Malinga — a back foot drive through covers for a boundary and an exquisite pull in front of square for his second boundary of the fourth over of the innings. In the next over Malinga bowled a tight line to Cook and troubled him with a ball that comes back in. After four overs Malinga was taken off the attack.

Shaminda Eranga replaced Malinga and Bell probably heaved a sigh of relief. Bell got down on one knee and timed the ball through the covers for a boundary. Aggression was probably the order of the next few overs after seeing off the new ball.  In his next over, Eranga bowled a benign delivery on Bell’s pads. But the batsman chipped the delivery straight towards Kusal Perera who was stationed at deep mid-wicket.

Trott who boasts an average of above 50 walked in the middle at No. 3. He kickstarted his innings with a flick past mid-wicket and mid-on of skipper Angelo Mathews in the 14th over of the innings. In the same over, Tillakaratne Dilshan fielding at backward point dropped Cook on 23. Cook offered another chance to Dilshan who dropped a catch off his own bowling when the England captain was on 56.

The duo looked to take singles. Cook’s confidence at the crease was evident in the way he was controlling the innings, while Trott was batting with composure. The emphasis, like against Australia at Edgbaston, was on laying a solid foundation and giving the batsman to follow a chance to accelerate.

In the 29th over, Cook looked to sweep left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and missed the ball. He was adjudged leg-before. The promising second wicket alliance added 83 in 17 overs. Root walked in at No. 4 and looked positive right from the outset.

Trott was in his zone while Root infused the sense of urgency in the middle. The pair rotated the strike consistently. Sri Lanka kept waiting for the chances, the bowlers weren’t able to create chances. The third wicket partnership of Trott-Root put on 87 off 81 deliveries. Trott was dismissed much like Cook attempting to sweep off Herath. He scored 76 off 87 deliveries. That brought in Eoin Morgan in the middle who looked to go after the bowling straight away.

Sri Lanka’s fielding was disappointing. After Cook was reprieved twice by Dilshan, he dropped Root as well in the 40th over. Malinga hoodwinked Root off the slower delivery. Root looked to deposit the ball in towards the cow-corner but ended up top-edging the ball which flew just behind backward point. Malinga again beat Root with a slower ball in the 44th over. The batsman tried to pull out of the shot but got a top-edge, Kumar Sangakkara misjudged the catch. Root was on 56 at that point. But that drop didn’t prove expensive.

Malinga finally befuddled Root with a slower ball in the 46th over, which he timed well and it was caught straightforward at deep mid-wicket by Mahela Jayawardene. In the next delivery, Morgan was dismissed leg-before off a full delivery which the batsman missed. Jos Buttler was out in the next over off Kulasekara for duck. All of a sudden 249 for three became 249 for six.

Eranga bowled Tim Bresnan and England seemed to have lost the plot. England were pegged back considerably courtesy of those vital wickets.

But Bopara and Stuart Broad avoided any further collapse. The duo negotiated Malinga’s last over comfortably. In the last over Bopara punished Eranga and scored 28 off his final over (6,4,6,4,2,6). Bopara finished with 33 from 13 deliveries.
 
Both sides made one change to the XIs that played in their opening games. England brought back Graeme Swann, who missed the game against Australia due to a back injury in place of James Tredwell while Sri Lanka have brought in Nuwan Kulasekara in the overcast conditions for all-rounder Thisara Perera.

Sri Lanka, who lost their opening game against New Zealand, need to win to this game to have any hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals while England, who won their opening game against Australia by 48 runs, will be in the next round if they win.

Brief scores:

England 293 for 7 in 50 overs (Jonathan Trott 76, Joe Root 68; Rangana Herath 2 for 46) vs Sri Lanka.

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(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)