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All-round Dilshan scripts perfect Sanga-Mahela farewell

England crumbles to 87-run loss in seventh ODI as Sri Lanka clinches series 5-2

All-round Dilshan scripts perfect Sanga-Mahela farewell - Cricket News
It was just about the perfect finish. Stumped Sangakkara, bowled Jayawardene brought the curtain down not only on the mismatched seven-game One-Day International series between Sri Lanka and England, but also on the home ODI careers of two of the most glittering gems in Sri Lanka’s cricketing crown.
 
Tillakaratne Dilshan produced a typically bruising century, and then followed it up with a three-wicket burst, to fashion Sri Lanka’s 87-run win in the final game at the R Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday (December 16), but this night was all about Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
 
While Sangakkara will still play Test cricket in Sri Lanka, this was Jayawardene’s last international outing on home soil. Neither legend made a massive impression with the bat, but when Sangakkara stumped James Tredwell to give Jayawardene only his eighth ODI wicket, it was enough to send the packed gathering into raptures.
 
Dilshan’s brilliance and late cameos from Thisara Perera and Dinesh Chandimal had helped Sri Lanka to an imposing 302 for 6. With Dilshan starring with the ball and England showing no stomach for battle, with the exception of Joe Root, a familiar script unfolded as the visitor crumbled for 215 in 45.5 overs.

England’s chase got off to the worst possible start, Dilshan removing Moeen Ali (0) and Alex Hales (7) inside the first eight overs. Alastair Cook, under pressure after a string of low scores, rode his luck – he survived an lbw shout first ball and was put down by Jayawardene to his left at slip -- but edged Suranga Lakmal to Jayawardene at first slip after scoring 32 off 49 balls.

James Taylor and Eoin Morgan followed soon after, as England found itself tottering at 78 for 5 in the 20thover.

Root, who watched helplessly as wickets tumbled around him, was then joined by Jos Buttler. Between them, they built the first significant partnership, adding 48 off 50 balls. Once Buttler fell for 23, Root and Chris Woakes launched a reprisal attack with a seventh-wicket partnership of 66 off 75 balls, giving the visiting side a glimpse of hope.


But when Perera removed Woakes (34) in the 40th over, it was all but over for England. Root managed a valiant 99-ball 80 before being trapped leg before reverse-sweeping Seekkuge Prasanna, who also removed Chris Jordan in the same over to reduce England to 193 for 9.

Knowing the game was done and dusted, Angelo Mathews tossed the ball to Jayawardene, and it only took him 11 balls to wrap England up for 215, leaving the capacity crowd with a moment to cherish forever.

Dilshan starred with the ball returning figures of 3 for 37 and towards the end, was well supported by Prasanna, who bagged 3 for 35 in his eight overs.

Sri Lanka held a decisive 4-2 lead coming into the final match of the series, and Mathews had no hesitation in choosing to bat first on the grassless batting-friendly pitch after winning the toss. The host got off to a brisk start courtesy a 48-ball opening partnership of 55 between Dilshan and Jayawardene, who made 28 before falling in the eighth over, caught by Woakes off Harry Gurney.

Sangakkara, six runs shy of becoming the highest run-getter in a calendar year across all formats, then joined Dilshan. The proceedings slowed somewhat as the pair opted for consolidation with a steady second-wicket partnership of 65 off 95 balls.

England managed a second breakthrough in the 24th over with Ali, the offspinner, hitting it lucky when Sangakkara (33) swung a low full toss straight to Tredwell at midwicket. Ali struck once again in the 32nd over, going past the defence of Mathews.
This brought Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal together, with Sri Lanka on 156 for 3. Dilshan had aready moved to 73 by then, and Chandimal adopted the role of the aggressor, taking Sri Lanka past the 200-run mark.

The 43rd over from Jordan finally yielded Dilshan’s much awaited 18th ODI century in his 300th ODI, as the packed house at the stadium went wild in celebration. But that changed to pin-drop silence two balls later when Dilshan, in an attempt to clear the midwicket boundary, was caught by Ali after a splendid 124-ball 101 which included nine fours and a six.

Sri Lanka still had 6.3 overs in hand, and to get to an intimidating total, needed some big hitting in the death overs. Perera, batting at No. 6, did just that by smashing the second fastest fifty by a Sri Lankan in ODIs, his 54 coming off just 26 balls and studded with seven fours and a six.

Chandimal provided the perfect foil in the fifth-wicket partnership of 63 that came off just 35 balls, and in the process brought up his 12th ODI fifty.

He remained unbeaten on 55 to take Sri Lanka past 300 even as Jordan bowled a tight final over that generated two wickets and just four runs.

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