Sri Lanka Chase 309, Make England Look Pedestrian
Sri Lanka 312-1 (Thirimanne 139 no) beat
England 309-6 (Root 121) by nine wickets
World Cup, 22nd Match, Pool A, Wellington
Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne stroked sublime centuries as Sri Lanka made England’s 309 look pedestrian, chasing it down with 16 balls to spare to win their World Cup clash by nine wickets in Wellington.
England won the toss and chose to bat under fine conditions for run-making.
Sri Lanka’s first worries came from the umpire, warning Suranga Lakmal (1-71), who had a torrid day to follow for running on to the danger area in his follow through very early in the innings.
Ian Bell (49) got off to a flyer while living a chanced life, dropped twice by Tillakaratne Dilshan (1-35).
Just when the foundation for a big score was looking believable, with England racing away to 62 in only nine overs, Moeen Ali (15) threw his wicket away to Angelo Matthews (1-43).
Gary Ballance’s (6) horrendous World Cup continued as he offered Dilshan a decent caught and bowled opportunity.
The loss of two wickets slowed Bell down as he unfortunately got out, one short of a good half-century, playing on to his stumps of Lakmal.
Eoin Morgan (27) hit some good shots to fielders, but was generally slow, before hitting one straight to Dilshan just before the batting power-play.
England managed 203 by the end of the power-play and went on to pile up another 106 runs in the last 10 overs, thanks largely to a wonderful century from Joe Root (121), who added 98 with James Taylor (25) for the fifth wicket.
England took special toll of Thisara Perera (1-55), scoring 25 off the 45th over with Root smacking him for three fours and a six after Taylor drilled a six off the very first ball of the over.
Root, scoring at a strike rate of 112 was eventually out in the 47th over, trying a reverse sweep but not before becoming the youngest English player to score a World Cup century.
Jos Buttler (39 not out) hardly had the time to accelerate but used the 19 balls he got to good effect, including producing a 22-run last over off Lakmal, who was taken off after four balls for bowling two beamers.
England managed 309, a par score for this World Cup, given the conditions.
Every Sri Lankan bowler picked up a wicket apiece. Sri Lanka’s most reliable bowler, Rangana Herath (1-35) was injured during the innings and couldn’t complete his sixth over while Lasith Malinga (1-63) had an off-day.
While Root became the youngest Englishman to score a century at the World Cup, the Sri Lankan chase of 309,witnessed Thirimanne (139 not out) emulate him for Sri Lanka.
Thirimanne continued his run of good luck from the previous game as Buttler and Root between them missed a regulation slip catch when he was on three.
Thirimanne would be dropped yet again on 99 by Ali (1-50), whose attempt from inside the circle looked more amateurish than unfortunate.
Sri Lanka continued their fine tradition of excellent opening stands with Dilshan (44) and Thirimanne adding 100 this time in 19 overs, before Dilshan fell to Ali - the only wicket England managed to pick during the chase.
Sangakkara (117 not out) was in scintillating form, bettering his own fastest hundred in the previous One-Day International with a 70-ball ton that was full of breathtakingly gorgeous shots.
Sangakkara hardly played any dot balls towards the latter half of his innings, ensuring that there was no pressure as Thirimanne fumbled for a while through the nervous 90s.
His eventual strike-rate of 136 doesn’t tell you how elegant he was throughout the innings, with hardly a false stroke or a needless slog.
Sri Lanka chased down the target in the 48th over, with nine wickets in hand, only the second time in history after India, that a team chased a 300-plus target losing just one-wicket.
Sangakkara picked up the man of the match and also overtook Brian Lara to go third on the list of highest run-getters behind Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar at the World Cups.
The English bowling was, generally speaking, poor. They bowled short and to bad fields.
Every bowler barring Ali went at more than six-per-over. Chris Woakes (0-72) who had been impressive in England’s previous games was the most expensive English bowler in this match.
Steven Finn (0-54), Stuart Broad (0-67) and James Anderson (0-48) were all made to look like club-cricket bowlers by some surgically precise batting from Sangakkara.
England will now face Bangladesh next in a crucial encounter on 9th March in Adelaide.
© Cricket World 2015