ICL: Indian Cricket League

Cook serves up series glory for England


England’s rapidly maturing one-day side secured a historic victory with a five-wicket win in Colombo to claim their first limited-overs series success in Sri Lanka and first significant victory in the subcontinent for 20 years. Riding on the back of another hostile display from the quick bowlers, as James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom shared six wickets, they knocked off the runs with 19 balls to spare, Alastair Cook making a measured 80 and Kevin Pietersen completing the job with 63 not out.

As was the case with the three matches in Dambulla it wasn’t the prettiest cricket to watch, but that won’t bother Paul Collingwood. England are carving out one-day victories with increasing regularity from a variety of positions. They had this match under control from the early exchanges where they restricted Sri Lanka’s innings to an early crawl. In the 11th over the home side were floundering on 20 for 3 and although Kumar Sangakkara and Chamara Silva added 126 - the highest stand of the series from either side - they never took the game away.

Phil Mustard’s 19 was a rare piece of aggressive batting and while it didn’t last long it gave an insight into the confidence with the camp. Cook, who wasn’t born when England won their only previous ODI in Sri Lanka in 1982, struggled at Dambulla but with his nemesis, Farveez Maharoof, out injured, he produced his strongest performance of the series in a situation which was ideal for his traditional style of accumulation.

Cook’s half-century took 70 balls and he added 54 with Ian Bell who again looked in prime form before finding mid-on with a flat-batted pull off Kaushal Lokuarachchi. However, with Maharoof missing, Sri Lanka’s attack was a fast bowler short for the conditions. Lokuarachchi didn’t let his team down, but Mahela Jayawardene needed wickets and the overs of spin were comfortably milked by batsmen never under pressure from the run rate.

Pietersen, who hasn’t been the happiest player on the trip, again wasn’t at his best yet still managed the most commanding innings of the match. He opened up against Lokuarachichi, sending him straight for the only six of the match and reaching his fifty off 57 balls. When Dilhara Fernando claimed a late double, including Collingwood first-ball, Pietersen made sure there were no alarms.

However, in searing heat and energy-sapping humidity it was the bowlers who again deserve the plaudits. During the opening 20 overs they barely bowled a loose delivery and the entire innings included only 12 fours. Sidebottom set the tone when he induced a thick edge from Upul Tharanga and after the surface at Dambulla, where the ball barely rose above ankle height, the bowlers were enjoying a pitch with a little more pace and bounce.

Sanath Jayasuriya never looked happy, hardly managing one shot off the middle in his 22-ball stay, and handed Anderson his first wicket of the series when he drove a slower ball to Pietersen at mid-off. Even when the bowlers did stray marginally off line it was their day. Jayawardene’s eyes lit up when Anderson dropped short and wide, but the uppercut flew down to third man where Broad ran forward and took the catch inches off the turf.

Occasional boundaries were rare moments of freedom as the run-rate struggled to rise above two-an-over. Gradually, the heat took its toll on the fielders with a few overthrows aiding Sri Lanka’s cause while Sangakkara and Silva tried to keep their team’s hopes alive. It wasn’t a pretty partnership, but they were left with little option but to take extra care after the early damage.

Sri Lanka’s hundred didn’t arrive until the end of the 30th over, but Sangakkara reached fifty off 80 balls, shortly followed by Silva off 89 deliveries and both were ready to lift the scoring rate. However, after a period of medium-pace and spin, Broad returned to the attack and snared the pair with short balls. Silva became the second wicket to fall at third man, where Ravi Bopara took a well-judged catch, and the same fielder was alert to take Sangakkara’s miscued pull off a Broad long-hop.

The Sri Lankans expended a lot of energy in the closing overs, but without much reward as Anderson and Sidebottom switched into yorker mode and each picked up their third wickets. England knew the series was within their grasp and a young side closed out the match with impressive efficiency. Sri Lanka had begun as clear favourites in everyone’s books, but have been out-played by a team that are no longer one-day pushovers.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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