Sri Lanka win Fifth ODI

A stunning collapse from England’s batsmen showcased the fact that they still have much to do to become a top one-day international side despite their series victory in Sri Lanka, and reduced the hosts’ margin of loss to 3-2. Dilhara Fernando grabbed career-best figures of 6 for 27 (the 5th-best in Sri Lankan ODI history) as the tourists slid to 104 all out and a 107-run loss. Despite several fine performances from their bowlers in the series, batting remains an inexorable problem.

As in the previous game, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen had for a time played assertively and at 56 for 2 in the 16th over, they were hinting at a reprise. But the wheels came spectacularly off, with the final 8 wickets going down for just 58. Earlier, Chaminda Vaas finally took Philip Mustard’s wicket – the first time in the series that the experienced left-armer has nailed a man who has of times taken to him – thanks to a superlative catch. 7 overs later, Ian Bell became the first of Fernando’s victims, attempting to hit a slower-delivery over the leg-side but failing to clear Lasith Malinga at mid-on. Bell’s has been a hugely disappointing series – while no-one would have expected him to repeat his efforts against India last August and September, to follow it with a series where he has averaged 14 with a top-score of 25 in 5 innings has been a spectacular return to Earth. Mustard, meanwhile, despite striking at the best part of a-run-a-ball, has failed to demonstrate any real staying power and has no more of a case than the man he replaced, Matthew Prior, to stay in the side.

Cook and Pietersen, however, again looked in excellent touch. Pietersen got off the mark with a characteristic whip off the pads from Fernando, and after Cook fell to another excellent catch from Sangakkara after an edged drive off Fernando, took 14 from 4 balls in Vaas’ penultimate over. For once, though (Pietersen has had overwhelmingly the best of their many battles in the last 16 months) the bowler had the last word, as the batsman stepped much too far across his stumps, leaving the leg exposed. Vaas hit it with a yorker-length delivery. Collingwood had already fallen by this time, in a virtual action-replay of his own dismissal the previous game, pinned plumb lbw by a sharp nip-backer from Fernando. He too has endured a wretched series, with the bat at least, mustering just 85 in 5 innings. Shah has played one significant knock and nothing besides, after he was suckered once again by a slower-delivery, this time from Fernando, who grabbed his 4th as Shah spooned one straight to Kaushal Lokuarachchi in the covers. He got his 5th and 6th the following over as yet another slower-delivery was chipped by Stuart Broad straight to Sanath Jayasuriya at mid-wicket, and Ryan Sidebottom missed a full, straight one.

In both of England’s collapses this series (and also in the World Cup game against South Africa) Ravinder Bopara has been left high and dry, and he at least saved his team from the ignominy of being dismissed for double-figures. Lasith Malinga claimed the final 2 wickets, though, as both James Anderson and, 5 overs later, Monty Panesar – who had replaced the hamstrung Graeme Swann – edged to Sangakkara, the first opportunity simple, the second the wicketkeeper’s third brilliant take of the day. Bopara’s series has been, on the rare occasion he has had a chance to influence a game, disappointing too, with failures in the second and third games. England’s top-order cannot expect their bowlers to win too many more series for them.

The bowling had been, once again, for the most part outstanding. Ryan Sidebottom, once again, led the way. James Anderson struggled, as he did in the opening game, and Jayasuriya took two maximums in the 3rd and 7th overs. The Lancashire seamer missed a caught-and-bowled opportunity off debutant right-hander Dilruwan Perera, but eventually got Jayasuriya in another action-replay of his dismissal the previous game: full slower-ball outside off, the batsman picked it and attempted to smash it over mid-off, did not time it and gave Pietersen a simple catch. The only difference was that this time it went in cleanly.

Sangakkara and Perera were moderately impressive in the remaining Powerplay overs, though Sidebottom again offered less than his partner. He got his rewards when Perera finally nicked a ball he had flirted with several times, and Mahela Jayawardene fell for his 2nd consecutive duck, chipping lamely to mid-on where Stuart Broad took a good diving catch. Chamara Silva struggled to find gaps, repeatedly hitting the off-side fielders attempting to force short deliveries through. He finally managed a boundary when he decided to aim leg-side off Broad, who had benefited greatly from Silva’s ability to find the fielders.

Collingwood had collided with Jayasuriya attempting a run-out early in the piece, and this seemed to aggravate his shoulder injury, meaning he was unable to bowl. This meant Panesar was tossed the ball in the 20th and Owais Shah in the 23rd. Panesar continued his unimpressive ODI form, and Shah bowled his usual mixture of utter nonsense and useful deliveries. One of these turned around Sangakkara’s pads to hit his leg-stump, though Rudi Koertzen bizarrely initially called a wide. Tillakaratne Dilshan, frustrated by inability to manoeuvre the gaps and perhaps by Silva’s turning down an easy single in the 28th, went for a suicidal single in the 29th – Bopara’s opening over – and had no chance of getting back. Jehan Mubarak lasted a little while but accumulated just 6 before slapping a Panesar long-hop straight to Bopara at backward-point. Bopara had whittled through 5 overs extremely economically himself, and Lokuarachchi missed a straight delivery from him without scoring to give Koertzen another easy decision.

Silva and Vaas, however, added 34 to give their side some hope. Broad wrapped-up the innings, grabbing the last 5 wickets as he clean-bowled Vaas and Fernando and had Silva caught at third-man in a way which has become somewhat commonplace for the bowler. In theory, Sri Lanka could still have won without Silva’s 73, but in all probability the innings was the difference between victory and defeat and he was unfortunate that Fernando upstaged him later on as a very fine, battling innings was almost buried amidst the debris of England’s clatter of wickets.

Sri Lanka 211 (48.1 overs)
Chamara Silva 73
Stuart Broad 9.1-36-3

England 104
Dilhara Fernando 8-27-6

Sri Lanka won by 107 runs

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