Sri Lanka repeat 1996 dose on England

Tillakaratne Dilshan plays a shot during his innings of 108 against England

By Suneer Chowdhary

Colombo: Mar 26, 2011

England s hopes would have risen after the South African upset in the third quarter-final against New Zealand and thanks to the track record that they had in the tournament. South Africa had failed to chase down a target of 222, collapsing to what turned out to an easy win on a track that seemed far better to bat on than the one at R Premadasa in Colombo. On the other hand, all six of the games that the English side had played leading up to the quarter-finals had gone down to the wire.

However, Sri Lanka showed that they were a different proposition as they chased down the target of 230 set by England with consummate ease and marched into the semi-finals of the World Cup 2011. If Sanath Jayasuriya and co. had been merciless on England at the same stage of the 1996 World Cup, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga took no prisoners in their quarter-final win over England.

Sri Lankan openers Dilshan and Tharanga toyed with the English bowling from the word go. England opened the attack with Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann but neither managed to have an effect on the opening batsmen.

The first boundary came in the third over off the blade of Tharanga, and he celebrated it with a six off the next over. Dilshan joined in the fun as he drilled Swann to the fence in the sixth over leading the captain Andrew Strauss to turn to Chris Tremlett and Ravi Bopara in the seventh and the eighth over respectively.

Not that it had any effect on the opening batsmen who looked to have got set by this time. Such was the assault that the bowlers rarely came close to taking a wicket and Strauss had no option but to not take the bowling Powerplay with the score reading 57 for no loss.

Even after the field was spread out, the opening batsmen wasted no opportunity in going after the bowling and got to their respective half centuries the second time in the tournament they had got it together. The English captain Andrew Strauss tried out all his bowlers, but the fizz seemed to have been all but gone from their attack, and the lost sting allowed the pair to plunder in the manner that they had earlier done against Zimbabwe.

Both players got to their respective centuries en route a second double-century stand for the first wicket in this tournament. Dilshan got to his 100 with a favourite cut shot off Swann, while Tharanga almost missed out on getting there before celebrating his century by leading the side to a win by ten wickets.

England had a golden opportunity to seal the advantage after they had won the toss at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, a venue where it augurs well to bat first. However, the early wickets of Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell meant that the pair of Jonathon Trott and Ravi Bopara needed to rebuild during the Powerplay overs.

England were 32 for two at the end of the first ten and only 14 came off the next five overs to push the side further back.

The pair added 64 but took 18 overs to do so with the acceleration coming only towards the end of their partnership. Bopara made 31 before falling to Muthiah Muralitharan, lbw with the score reading 95.

The intent in the English innings was brought about by the batting of Eoin Morgan, who went on to get to his half century. It was far from being a chanceless innings, with a spate of three catches dropped and the Lankans refusing to refer a decision that would have been overturned.

Trott made 86 at the other end, his fifth half-century in the tournament, but the Batting Powerplay saw the side score only 23 runs for the loss of two wickets and England ended with 229 for 6 in their stipulated 50 overs.

Brief Scores: England 229 for 6 in 50 overs (Jonathon Trott 86, Eoin Morgan 50; Muthiah Muralitharan 2 for 54, Tillakaratne Dilshan 1 for 25) lost to Sri Lanka 231 for no loss in 39. 3 overs (Tillakaratne Dilshan 108*, Upul Tharanga 102*) by 10 wickets.


Man of the Match: Tillakaratne Dilshan

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)

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