England scrape 3rd ODI victory

A fine all round performance by the rejuvinated Graeme Swann helped England scrape a two wicket victory in the 3rd ODI at Dambullah. In a low scoring contest, where only Tillakaratne Dilshan passed 35, Swann and England’s lower order had to hold their nerve to see the visitors home after it looked like they were on the rack.

The game was reduced to 48 overs a side after bursts of rain intervened with the start of Sri Lanka’s innings, and as the hosts slipped to 42-4 they must have wished it would come back for a prolonged stay. Ryan Sidebottom removed both openers with the new ball. The left-arm seamer bowled Upul Tharanga through the gate for 15 and had Jayasuria caught by Swann attempting to pull after the 38 year old, playing his 401st ODI, had made only 11.

Stuart Broad at the other end was also troubling the Sri Lankan batsmen, removing Mahela Jaywardene with his first ball. The next dismissal was truly remarkable for this day and age. Broad bowled slightly short and pretty wide to one of the key Sri Lankan batsmen, Kumar Sangakkara, who attempted to cut and appeared to miss, before promptly marching back off to the pavilion. With the days of walking well and truly over and his side in a tight spot, to give himself up without even an appeal from the bowler and wicketkeeper will be considered either brilliantly sporting or shockingly stupid, depending on people’s stances on walking.

With Sangakkara leaving the hosts in the lurch, Dilshan came to the crease. The one batsman to look comfortable all day, Dilshan steadied the ship, adding 43 for the fifth wicket with Chamara Silva. However, the introduction of Swann swung the game even more in England’s favour. Silva edged an attempted sweep of Swann onto his boot, with keeper Phil Mustard catching it back on the way up, and pretty soon the Sri Lankans were falling to Swann as fast as they came in. Mubarak chipped a return catch to the Nottinghamshire player after hitting Swann for 6 two balls earlier. Farveez Maharoof was also deceived by the off spinner and provided a second caught & bowled opportunity, which Swann also hung onto.

Chaminda Vaas was run out for 4, but Dilshan finally found a partner in Dilhara Fernando. The pair put on 46 for the ninth-wicket, saving the Sri Lankan innings from complete capitulation and taking them to 164. Dilshan’s fine knock of 70 was brought to an end at that point, becoming Swann’s fourth victim to take his series tally to 7 in 3 games. Not bad for a return to international cricket after 8 years in the wilderness. Fernando fell to Sidebottom at the other end before another run had been added to provide England with a fairly easy chase of 164.

Or so we thought. A small revival of sorts has taken place in the short form of England’s game under Peter Moores, but this is unmistakably atill the England side which has struggled in ODIs for nigh on a decade now, as witnessed in their chase. Only England could make such a relatively easy chase so painful to watch. Other sides may have struggled on a slow pitch against a Sri Lankan outfit that bowled well, but the English top order all managing to look like tailenders is a style uniquely their own, perfected over several years.

Alistair Cook was the first to fall, edging a Chaminda Vaas outswinger to Sangakkara. Followed not long after by his opening partner Mustard, playing onto his stumps off Maharoof.

Maharoof bowled a fine spell, sending all 10 of his alloted overs down straight off and not giving the batsmen anything. He trapped Pietersen lbw for 8 and then removed Ian Bell, who had looked decent for 16, to give him fgures of 3-34.

Collingwood and Owais Shah put together a partnership for the fifth wicket, adding 47 and looking like seeing the tourists towards the finish line. However, the pair went slowly, only scoring 5 runs in the third powerplay over 3 overs and both scoring at under a run every two balls.

The partnership was not to last either. A rush of blood to Shah’s head precipitated another collapse that left England on the rack. Shah ran down the pitch to Jayauria’s left arm spin and heaved at thin air, getting bowled for 19. Jayasuria then removed Collingwood, trapping the England captain plumb infront of his stumps. Ravi Bopara soon followed Collingwood back to the pavilion, lbw to Lasith Malinga for 6.

Enter Swann and Broad again. With their side in trouble at 107-7, the two bowlers patiently nurdled their way to the total, resting the initiative from the Sri Lankans. Swann’s 25, more restrained than his previous two innings in the series, was vital in getting his side within 20 runs of the total. However, Dilhara Fernando produced a ball that was full, straight and quick that ripped Swann’s leg stump out of the ground.

Sri Lanka had their breakthrough, achieving a chance to bowl at number 10 batsman Ryan Sidebottom. However, with the pressure on, Sidebottom managed to keep the Sri Lankan bowlers at bay and Chris Broad guided England home, reaching 20 and hitting the winning runs.

England’s one day revival of sorts continues, with their 6th win in the last 10 games. More importantly, they go into the 4th ODI at Columbo on Wednesday with a 2-1 lead.

Sri Lanka 164 all out
Tillakaratne Dilshan 70
Graeme Swann 4-34, Ryan Sidebottom 3-19

England 164-8
Paul Collingwood 32, Graeme Swann 25
Farveez Maharoof 3-34, Sanath Jayasuria 2-23

England won by 2 wickets

Cricketweb player of the match: Graeme Swann

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