Thursday 22 February 2018

England's luck runs out in heavy defeat

David Clough in Colombo

Sri Lanka proved a step too far for England as they were trounced by 10 wickets for a humbling World Cup exit at the hands of Tillakeratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga.

England's progress to the quarter-finals was unconvincing, involving a succession of improbably tight finishes against all-comers in Group B.

That was not remotely the case at the Premadasa Stadium as openers Dilshan (108 not out) and Tharanga (102 not out) each hit irresistible hundreds in an unbroken stand of 231 to power their team to victory with more than 10 overs to spare.

Jonathan Trott (86) continued his prolific individual campaign, making himself the tournament's highest run-scorer so far to underpin England's 229 for six.

But Tharanga and Dilshan made a mockery of the transient notion that an awkward chase was in the offing as the 2007 finalists booked a semi-final with New Zealand at the same venue on Tuesday.

After winning the toss, England had badly needed Trott as Sri Lanka's three-man specialist spin attack -- with Dilshan also bowling new-ball off-breaks -- sought to stifle the batsmen.

The number three shared stands of 64 for the third wicket with Ravi Bopara and then 91 for the fourth with Eoin Morgan, who was unaccountably dropped three times -- on 16 and in the 30s -- off Sri Lanka's spinners.

Strauss was never able to get Dilshan away and was bowled trying to heave a short ball into the leg-side, having made only five from 19 balls.

Ian Bell attuned to the lack of pace much more easily than his out-of-sorts captain. But when Angelo Mathews had him chipping tamely into the leg-side ring, England had lost their second wicket for the addition of only two runs and Trott and Bopara had to start again, with only a single between them.

They went 15 overs without a boundary yet kept the scoreboard ticking with paddle-sweeps and other assorted deflections off the spinners.

Muttiah Muralitharan, the master off-spinner, defeated Bopara's attempted sweep to win an lbw verdict which was utterly confirmed upon review. Trott reached his 50, containing just one of his eventual two fours, with a reverse-sweep for three off the returning Dilshan.

Morgan finally gave an unmissable chance into the off-side ring, just after reaching his near run-a-ball 50, Mathews making up for being one of the earlier culprits by belatedly doing the basics.

England sprang a surprise by sending Swann in early, only for him to go lbw first ball trying to reverse-slog Ajantha Mendis, and they could muster only 23 for two in the batting powerplay.

Trott at least stayed the course until the penultimate over as he and Matt Prior eked out a total which some considered competitive, but not for long.

Sunday Indo Sport

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