ICL: Indian Cricket League

Resurgent England level series


England again demonstrated their ability to bounce back from adversity with a commendable 65-run win to draw level in the one-day series at Dambulla, their first one-day victory in Sri Lanka since 1982. Riding on Owais Shah’s 82, which led a fightback from 61 for 4, the fast bowlers shredded Sri Lanka’s top order then Graeme Swann completed a fine all-round day by further enhancing his impressive return to the team.

The match was a case of role reversal from the opening game; this time it was Sri Lanka’s turn to struggle under the lights after England had battled their way out of trouble. The first half of England’s innings had been played in quicksand with the batsmen unable to make any advances against another consistent display from the home side’s bowlers. But Shah showed his ability to marshall a recovery, adding 70 with Swann as 151 runs came from the second 25 overs. It gave the attack a target to bowl at, with England’s quicks enjoying the evening conditions.

Ryan Sidebottom struck with his second ball when Upul Tharanga drove loosely and Alastair Cook snaffled the catch at second slip. The same combination should have accounted for Kumar Sangakkara two balls later, but this time Cook couldn’t hold onto a chance which came higher and slightly quicker. Sangakkara continued to live a charmed life when Phil Mustard palmed a top edge off James Anderson.

Sidebottom’s probing line didn’t let Sanath Jayasuriya - who became the first player to reach 400 ODIs (more than the whole England side) - escape to a flying start and, trying to find a gap through the covers, picked out Ian Bell. Sangakkara never settled at the crease despite his two lives, spending 37 balls over 9 before edging the final delivery of Broad’s first over low to Mustard, who made amends for his earlier mistake with a neat catch.

England’s bowlers were revelling in a situation that allowed them to operate to their natural styles and Broad dispatched Chamara Silva first ball with a delivery which bounced and looped to backward point. Mahela Jayawardene battled to get settled, but Tillakaratne Dilshan took to the attack to give Sri Lanka hope. With the fifth-wicket partnership forming, they were ahead of England in terms of runs and Paul Collingwood knew he needed to continue taking wickets.

The value of having a spinner who isn’t afraid to give the ball air in one-day cricket was displayed as Swann ripped his third delivery through Dilshan’s drive and into his off stump. There is much debate about England’s selection policy of excluding Monty Panesar, but Swann’s contributions with bat, ball and in the field are making his place secure for the short term at least. Collingwood had the confidence in his offspinner to allow him two close fielders for large periods of his 10 overs, with Sri Lanka’s batsmen unusually tied to their crease.

Collingwood himself again provided a vital role with the ball, and it was his removal of opposite number Jayawardene - a leading edge to midwicket - which virtually nailed the match for England. Swann bagged a deserved second with a sharp caught-and-bowled off the dangerous Fareez Maharoof.

The crushing margin of England’s victory, only reduced by a final-wicket stand of 43, was even more significant given the problems they encountered early on with the bat. When Kevin Pietersen pulled Dilhara Fernando to midwicket they were 61 for 4, and by the midway point had laboured to 83 for 4 as Maharoof continued his probing line from the first match, superbly backed up by Fernando and Chaminda Vaas.

Collingwood began the fightback alongside Shah and the pair slowly hauled England out of their hole with a stand of 78 in 16 overs. Collingwood started to increase the tempo and finally cleared the boundary with a well-timed strike over midwicket off Fernando - the only six of the match. However, Fernando lifted his pace and beat Collingwood on the back foot with one which scooted through, and in the following over Ravi Bopara moved too far across against Dilshan, exposing his leg stump with terminal results.

The double loss left Shah needing to balance aggression with caution, and he continued to show the skills which have made him a valuable inclusion in England’s middle order over the last few months. His fifty came off 72 balls and with Swann again showing composure at the other end, he had the confidence to hunt for boundaries. He cracked Lasith Malinga over mid-off and used his feet against Dilshan, adding 70 off 69 balls until Swann was run-out for a 37-ball 34.

But Shah kept going until the final over, taking advantage of a few lapses from Sri Lanka in the field, running hard despite the hot conditions and lifting England to a total which appeared out of reach a couple of hours earlier. In the end it was more than enough and the series has been given fresh impetus. What a difference three days make.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 5th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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