Sri Lanka Outmuscle England In T20
Sri Lanka 183-7 (T Perera 49) beat
England 174-7 (Hales 66) by nine runs
Twenty20 International, The Oval
Sri Lanka produced the better all-round display as they beat England by nine runs in the one-off Twenty20 International at the Kia Oval.
Thisara Perera punished a dropped catch early in his innings to hit 49 in 20 balls and lift Sri Lanka up to a score of 183 for seven.
Despite Alex Hales hitting an excellent 66 in 41 balls, England fell short when they closed on 174 for seven.
Sri Lanka were sharper in the field and cleared the ropes in the closing stages to good effect, but the 19th overs of the respective innings were indicative of the difference between the two sides.
Chris Jordan leaked 22 runs during the penultimate over of Sri Lanka's innings and later in the evening, as England fought hard to stay in the game, Lasith Malinga bowled Jordan and conceded just four runs to effectively close out the match.
Needing 24 to win from the final over, Ravi Bopara, who closed unbeaten on 28 in 15 balls, did his best along with Chris Woakes (2 not out) but Sri Lanka, playing their first T20I since being crowned world champions in the shortest format, were too good.
Fresh from chasing down 128 to beat Sussex in 9.3 overs in their warm-up game, Sri Lanka started quickly after being asked to bat by Eoin Morgan as Tillakaratne Dilshan (14) and Kushal Perera (10) blasted off at the top of the order.
They were pegged back, however, when Dilshan was bowled by debutant left-arm seamer Harry Gurney and Perera was caught by Bopara off Jordan.
Kithruwan Vithanage and Lahiru Thirimanne then combined to add 54 for the third wicket to offer the rest of the batting line-up a platform.
Vithanage hit 38 in 26 balls and Thirimanne 40 in 32 and although Dinesh Chandimal (7) and Angelo Mathews (13) fell cheaply, Thisara Perera took full advantage of his good fortune.
Dropped when on 20 by Michael Carberry - a chance he should have taken despite the proximity of Morgan - the left-hander powered his way to 49 in 20 balls with seven fours and two sixes.
He was run out from the final ball of the innings when Gurney had the presence of mind to take the stump out of the ground with ball in hand after the bails had already been broken, but the damage to England had already been done.
Gurney had earlier removed Thirimanne, finishing with two for 26 while there was a wicket apiece for Joe Root, Woakes, Jordan and James Tredwell.
Carberry made a run-a-ball seven but could no go no further towards atoning for his earlier error when he was well caught by a recovering Nuwan Kulasekara at fine leg off Mathews.
Ian Bell, playing his first T20I since 2011, made 13 in 17 balls before he was the first of Malinga's victims, Kushal Perera also recovering after a slip to take a catch at mid-on.
Meanwhile, Hales was having little trouble at the other end and the Nottinghamshire man was single-handedly keeping England in the game as Root and Morgan both fell for five to leave England at 85 for four.
He found some support from Jos Buttler, who struck four fours in making 26 in 18 balls only to perish when he picked out Dilshan in the deep off Kulasekara in the 16th over.
If that felt like it was probably the final chance gone for England, it was almost certainly Sri Lanka's game when Malinga bowled Hales in the 17th over to leave the home side on 139 for six.
He had hit 66 in 41 balls, with seven fours and two sixes and this was an innings that left many wondering why he doesn't currently feature in England's 50-over plans.
Malinga continued to lead by example and by bowling Jordan in the penultimate over he not only picked up figures of three for 28, but ensured that Suranga Lakmal had the relative luxury of defending 24 in the final over.
Number seven seems too low in the order for Bopara but even he couldn't pull this one off for England in Peter Moores' first home game in charge during his second spell as head coach.
For Sri Lanka, who themselves are starting a new Twenty20 era without Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in their ranks, and Malinga as full-time captain, there was plenty to smile about.
The two sides begin a five-match One-Day International series at the same venue in two days.
© Cricket World 2014
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