Sri Lanka demolish England; ease into semis

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2011, 09:25 AM IST

Biswajit Jha/Zeecric.com

Colombo: Openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (108*) and Upul Tharanga (102*) slammed brilliant unbeaten centuries and put up a huge 231-run stand to power Sri Lanka into the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup by demolishing England by 10 wickets at Colombo on Saturday.

Their one-sided victory sets up a semi-final clash against giant killers New Zealand, who knocked tournament favourites South Africa out of the World Cup on Friday.

Both the openers took the English attack apart from the word go and scored freely. They took their team home through an array of entertaining shots against a bowling attack which lacked venom and imagination. Their attack had nothing with which one can be successful either on the sub-continental pitches or against the South Asian teams.

England’s gamble of bowling their best spinner Graeme Swann did not pay off as both the batsmen targeted him for special treatment. After that, England bowling had no answers as the openers piled on the misery for the hapless bowlers.

Chasing 230 for victory on a typical Lankan pitch, they gave their team a flying start as they breezed past the 50-run mark in just 8.5 overs. After that they never looked to be in any kind of trouble.

They slammed half-centuries to take Sri Lanka past the 100-run mark in style. No English bowler proved to be lethal on a slow turf as the openers found the proceedings quite easy.

Dilshan played in his customary fashion, hitting some entertaining shots all over the park while Tharanga was more composed and elegant.

Though Dilshan raced past him in the early stage, Tharanga overtook him after crossing his fifty, and during their stay at the crease, they matched each other stroke for stroke. But once Dilshan sniffed victory, he went beserk and started using the long handle with good effect.

Dilshan first completed a masterful century off 107-ball with 9 fours and two sixes while Tharanga followed his senior partner after a little while. He reached his hundred off 122 balls. His fine knock consisted of 12 fours and a six.

Earlier, England middle-order batsmen Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan slammed contrasting fifties to guide England to a challenging 229 on a pitch that is slow and low, if not a rank turner, against a disciplined Sri Lankan bowling attack.

Jonathan Trott’s dream-run with the bat continued as he scored yet another half-century in the tournament. Trott hit a patient 86 off 115 balls. His innings consisted of just two four.

Eoin Morgan, on the other hand, slammed a breezy half-century to take England to a position from where they could accelerate in the slog overs. But the duo of Malinga and Murali never allowed the English batsmen to break free, chipping in with the wickets of Morgan and Swann in the slog overs.

Despite building the foundation for over 250-run score, they finally had to settle for 229.

Morgan, who played the typical unorthodox shots during his innings, hit four fours to reach his fifty off 53 balls.

But immediately after reaching the milestone, Morgan, who got four ‘lives’ during his innings, was finally taken safely by Angelo Mathews off Malinga.

Sri Lanka, otherwise a good fielding unit, dropped catches at will which allowed the England off the hook despite finding them at 31/2 at the outset.

Electing to bat first, England started off poorly. Part-time off-spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan, bowling with the new ball, gave Sri Lanka first breakthrough, bowling England skipper Andrew Strauss out for 5.

Dilshan’s quicker one did the trick! The ball was slightly short, flatter and Strauss was looking for the almightily pull which took the inside edge of his bat and hit the stumps.

Angelo Mathews gave England their second shock as he forced opener Ian Bell to play a false shot which went to the backward short leg where Samaraweera took a simple catch. Bell made a fluent 25 off 32 balls with the help of three fours.

Sri Lanka decided to go with three spinners for this match. They included left-arm spinner Rangana Herath in place of paceman Nuan Kulasekara.

England, on the other hand, opted the same combination that played the last league match. It was decided that Ian Bell, who plays spin well, would open the batting along with skipper Andrew Strauss while stumper Matthew Prior would bat down the order.