Another loss for England

Despite an uncharacteristic re-shuffle by Duncan Fletcher, England lost the fourth ODI in their five-match series versus Sri Lanka by 33 runs. Another century by Mahela Jayawardene and a useful contribution from Farveez Maharoof ensured that Sri Lanka set a tricky 318 but undisciplined bowling from the home side ultimately cost them the match.

England looked as though they had hope early on in their run-chase when Marcus Trescothick and Alistair Cook put together a quick 77-run stand. Trescothick had played particularly well, driving the Sri Lankan bowlers through the covers immaculately and punishing Chaminda Vaas when the Sri Lankan seamer strayed onto his legs.

Both the English openers perished when they began to look settled at the crease. First, Trescothick drove Laslith Malinga powerfully but at catching height to mid-off. Cook then fell to Dilhara Fernando by nicking the ball back onto his stumps. If England were to have any chance of chasing the total, Ian Bell and Andrew Strauss needed to dig in.

Strauss played well for 45 and Bell likewise for a gutsy 30; the pair managed to get England into a position where there seemed to be a possibility of chasing the mammoth total. However, without Pietersen or Flintoff, the game soon started to slip away from England as batsmen consistently made starts but gave away their wickets.

Vikram Solanki came down the wicket and missed the ball by metres; Geraint Jones, having shown promise with a six over square-leg, holed out at long-on; Tim Bresnan was run out having attempted a possible three. However, credit should not be taken away from the Sri Lankan spinners who bowled extremely tightly and, effectively, forced the mistakes.

As England’s dramatic wicket loss raged at one end, Jamie Dalrymple proved just what a talent he is at the other. Some powerful and dominant strokeplay forced the Sri Lankans, momentarily, onto the back foot. Unfortunately, a big-hit attempt off the bowling of Fernando failed to connect and he was bowled. Despite this, Dalrymple has been one of the few positives of the series and looks sure to feature in England’s future ODI side.

Dalrymple had set England’s wheels in motion early on when he caught Sanath Jayasuriya on the boundary. However, with the loss of the opener came Mahela Jayawardene; little did England know that, just 88 balls later, Jayawardene would hold his bat aloft having scored his eighth ODI hundred.

Numerous flicks and drives found their way to the boundary and Jayawardene’s half-century was up in just 32. Maybe the innings was arrogant but, with some of the knocks he had produced in the series, Jayawardene had every right to attack the English bowlers as viciously as he did.

When Jayawardene chipped the ball into Dalrymple’s glad hands on 100, Sri Lanka looked on the verge of a lower-order wobble. However, Farveez Maharoof and Malinga Bandara blistered wayward bowling from Kabir Ali and forged a 68-run partnership from just 39 balls.

Sri Lanka will be looking to make a similar performance when they play England for the final time in the series on Saturday at Headingly. Meanwhile, the England camp must try to salvage some pride from the final game – a 5-0 defeat is not something that would boost confidence for the home side’s upcoming series versus Pakistan later on this summer.

Sri Lanka 318/7
Mahela Jayawardene 100, Farveez Maharoof 58*
Jamie Dalrymple 2/44, Steve Harmison 2/51

Sri Lanka won by 33 runs

England 285
Andrew Strauss 45, Marcus Trescothick 44
Malinga Bandara 2/43, Tillakaratne Dilshan 2/46

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Harry Warwick