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England crumbles to 157-run defeat

Senanayake, Kulasekara skittle hosts for 99 to help Sri Lanka level ODI series 1-1 with three to play

England crumbles to 157-run defeat - Cricket News
Sachithra Senanayake picked up four wickets for 13 runs.

Sri Lanka levelled the five-match One-Day International series with a crushing win over an abject England at a chilly Chester-le-Street. Tlllakaratne Dilshan anchored the visitors’ innings with a Man-of-the-Match-winning 88, while Ashan Priyanjan hit a quickfire 43 to push Sri Lanka up to 256 for 8. England’s batting was dismal, a procession of wickets leading to its heaviest-ever home defeat in terms of runs in ODI cricket. Sri Lanka will go to Manchester with a spring in the step; England will surely look to change one or two in its line-up as it searches for consistency.

Lahiru Thirimanne who laboured 37 balls for his 10, a knock punctuated by a six, the only maximum struck in Sri Lanka’s first 40 overs. While Dilshan accumulated at one end, Kumar Sangakarra was happy to play himself in at the other, waiting for the late overs charge. But even his vast experience let him down, as he impatiently slashed James Tredwell off the leading edge high to Jos Buttler, running round from behind the stumps. Buttler was also on hand to effect the run out that dismissed an absent-minded Mahela Jayawardene and England had not needed to do much to send back the two Sri Lanka batsmen for a combined score of 42 off 75 balls.

The innings had reached 145 for 3 off 35 overs, when the batting power play was called with Dilshan and Angelo Mathews plotting a route to 250+. As so often, the Power Play brought the wicket, Chris Jordan, impressive again after his Man of the Match performance at The Oval, bowling Dilshan through the gate. The veteran opener’s 88 comprised well over half the runs scored while he was at the crease, but it contained just the seven fours, revealing what hard work it had been on a pitch that had a capricious bent, just a little two-paced for men who grew up on the true surfaces of the teardrop island.

It had all felt a little too easy for England, with just a touch of complacency creeping into their play in the 40th over as Ravi Bopara misfielded and Harry Gurney dropped Priyanjan, having failed to make good ground at third man. Inevitably, the reprieved man blasted two sixes in the next over, as the batsmen eyed the 250 that appeared to have been on the Lankans’ minds since being invited to bat.

Bopara was at fault again in the 45th over, dropping Sri Lanka’s captain, England’s concentration wandering a little as Priyanjan in particular used a variety of strokes to put pressure on the field. Having controlled the game for so long, England’s lack of attention to details saw perhaps 20 more runs added than Eoin Morgan would have expected.

Bopara did pouch his man in the 47th over, Mathews gone for a spritely 30 off 35, introducing ex-keeper Dinesh Chandimal, deep in the order at No. 7. He struck two boundaries, but the only real impetus had come from the new man, Priyanjan, who eventually miscued, having made 43 off 33. He was the only bat in the top six to better wides’ (15) strike rate – plenty more of those could have been called by the umpires, who were in an indulgent mood.

At the innings break, 256 for 8 felt like the kind of total for which both sides would have settled at the toss. James Anderson had been the pick of the bowlers, his ten overs going for just 38 runs while he snared a couple of wickets, but he had good support in which Gurney was again impressive. 

Both openers went in the same way – caught Sangakarra bowled Nuwan Kulasekara – neither Michael Carberry nor Ian Bell getting fully behind the ball as it wobbled enough to take the edge. With Joe Root’s feet going nowhere yet again, he was bowled by Lasith Malinga .

At 27 for 3, Thursday’s confidence had ebbed away completely with matters worsening for the hosts as Gary Ballance played round a straightish one from Kulasekara to give the bowler a third wicket. That brought Bopara to the crease to join his no doubt bemused captain, and 25 minutes of quiet consolidation ensued.

He completely misread Sachithra Senanayake’s flicked delivery that seamed through a gaping gate to bowl him. Jos Buttler got one from Mathews that stopped a bit in the pitch to be caught off the leading edge, and Chris Jordan found the match situation rather different to three days earlier where his pyrotechnics drove England forward – today he was lbw to Senanayake after a plaintive, hopeful review.

Only the avoidance of low-scoring ODI records was left for England as the visitors roared back into the series. Most, if not quite all those records were passed, ignominies avoided by Morgan’s 40, the only innings of any competence at all from No. 1 through 11. England had succumbed to good, but hardly unplayable bowling, all out for 99 with Senanayake’s unconventional spin delivering spectacular figures of 7.1-1-13-4 to complement Kulasekara’s 6-3-15-3.

As Angelo Mathews had done so well, Eoin Morgan and Alastair Cook must rally his troops in a couple of days before the next match in Manchester. Fail to do that, and this series could be gone next Saturday at Lord’s.