From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.14 :: Apr. 07, 2011


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Sri Lanka's smashing display

Sri Lanka's fourth World Cup semifinal materialised through Tillekaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga, who whipped England with such intensity that all the talk about the Poms being a resilient outfit touched by luck in the league phase was trashed once and for all. Kunal Diwan reports.

The manner in which Sri Lanka crushed England in the last quarterfinal of the 2011 World Cup was downright scary. A win by 10 wickets — with more than 10 overs to spare, on a track, which had been re-laid, but had a history of run chases gone awfully wrong — was just about the kind of stuff that causes the jitters in sides visiting the sub-continent.

England was stripped bare of its defences and hung out to dry, primarily through twin hundreds by the Sri Lankan openers, who chased down 229 with — as the current lot of brain-dead Indian commentators would say — ‘consummate ease'.

Sri Lanka's fourth World Cup semifinal materialised through Tillekaratne Dilshan (108, 115b, 10x4, 2x6)) and Upul Tharanga (102, 122b, 12x4, 1x6), who whipped England with such intensity that all the talk about the Poms being a resilient outfit touched by luck in the league phase was trashed once and for all.

England would have considered itself especially blessed when Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat, and even more fortunate when Jonathan Trott (86) and Eoin Morgan (50) ensured it a total that reeked, if nothing else, of respectability. How ignorant was England! How erroneously optimistic was Strauss, that in 39.3 overs of the Lankan innings, all hopes of England in the last four went up in smoke.

The Lankan pursuit of 229 was one-way traffic all along, although Tim Bresnan began with a maiden and Graeme Swann flattered to deceive in his first over. Things sped along as Dilshan and Tharanga found the boundary at regular intervals and once Bresnan's first spell (3-1-8-0) was seen through, the Lankan pair reached 57 for no loss at the end of the mandatory Powerplay.

Chris Tremlett, who retained his place on account of some ‘horseplay' between James Anderson and Graeme Swann, dropped Tharanga twice: once when the left-hander was on 58, and again — another opportunity off his own bowling — in his next over, when the ball zipped through as he tried to close his hands on it.

England claimed the bowling Powerplay in the 30th over, with Sri Lanka on 146. The field restrictions in place, Dilshan went for broke, smacking James Tredwell for consecutive fours.

The Powerplay yielded 40 runs and suddenly the English players appeared to be merely marking their time in the middle. In a reprise of Sri Lanka's league match against Zimbabwe, both the openers got their hundreds: Dilshan, with a boundary off Swann, and Tharanga with spank off Tremlett, the shot also giving his team the win.

Earlier, England was teetering on 31 for two, before two partnerships, both featuring Jonathan Trott (86), helped it to respectability. Dilshan opened the bowling with Lasith Malinga — the first time in the tournament that Sri Lanka began proceedings with a spinner — and castled Strauss as he went for a pull in the eighth over.

Soon after, Ian Bell chipped Angelo Mathews to mid-wicket leaving Trott to initiate the first of his two fruitful partnerships. Trott and Ravi Bopara (31) added 64 in 18 overs, before the latter was rapped in front by Muttiah Muralitharan.

Eoin Morgan (50) joined Trott for 91 runs in 16 overs for the fourth wicket. Morgan was dropped thrice in the course of his innings — twice in the 39th over from Muralitharan — and was finally out in the 43rd over, the first of the batting Powerplay, when Mathews held him at cover.

Trott brought up his fifty, his fifth of the tournament, in 72 balls, and departed in the penultimate over, Muralitharan's last, by which time he had taken England's total to the borders of decency. England scrounged 23 for the loss of two wickets in the batting Powerplay, but, in hindsight, Sri Lanka's response would have rubbished whatever more the visitor would have managed.


Fourth quarterfinal, Colombo, March 26. Sri Lanka won by 10 wickets.

England: A. Strauss b Dilshan 5; I. Bell c Samaraweera b Mathews 25; J. Trott c Jayawardene b Muralitharan 86; R. Bopara lbw b Muralitharan 31; E. Morgan c Mathews b Malinga 50; G. Swann lbw b Mendis 0; M. Prior (not out) 22; L. Wright (not out) 1; Extras (lb-3, w-6) 9. Total (for six wkts., in 50 overs) 229.

Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-31, 3-95, 4-186, 5-186, 6-212.

Sri Lanka bowling: Malinga 10-0-46-1; Dilshan 6-1-25-1; Mathews 5-0-20-1; Herath 10-1-47-0; Mendis 10-0-34-1; Muralitharan 9-0-54-2.

Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga (not out) 102; T. Dilshan (not out) 108; Extras (b-9, lb-6, w-6) 21. Total (for no loss in 39.3 overs) 231.

England bowling: Bresnen 8-1-40-0; Swann 9-0-61-0; Tremlett 7.3-0-38-0; Bopara 5-1-22-0; Tredwell 6-0-38-0; Wright 4-0-17-0.

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