By Dinouk Colombage
England 136 for 9- E. Morgan 47 off 32, L. Malinga 2-15 off 4 overs
Sri Lanka 137 for 1- M. Jayawardene 72 off 57, J. Dernbach 1-18 off 3 overs
Sri Lanka won by 9 wickets with 16 balls remaining
Sri Lanka put the loss in the test series to England behind them as they won their twenty-twenty match the reigning champions England at Bristol on yesterday. Sri Lanka followed up their clinical bowling performance with a show of dominance with the bat. Chasing 137 to win, Sri Lanka reached their target in 17.2 overs with nine wickets to spare.
Winning the toss England’s debutant captain, Stuart Broad, decided to bowl first in overcast conditions.
Sri Lanka looking to come back from a disappointing test series welcomed back Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews. Thilina Kandamby got his first taste at captaincy on the international stage.
Mahela Jayawardene scored 72 off 57 as he led Sri Lanka’s response with the bat; it was a welcome return to form. Former skipper Kumar Sangakarra also chipped in with a solid 43 off 39 deliveries as the pair put on an unbeaten 97 run partnership. Sanath Jayasuriya opened the innings with Jayawardene, but failed to make an impact as he was dismissed for 8 off 7 deliveries. This was the only point of celebration for the hosts as their bowlers looked lacklustre and their fielding flat.
Jayawardene showed that the shortest form of the game did not require brute strength as he drove, glided and elegantly cut his way to a commanding half century. His experience ensured that Sri Lanka had little trouble chasing down the total.
For England, the reigning twenty-twenty champions, there were left to ponder many decisions including their team selection. For Stuart Broad his first outing as captain was an occasion to be forgotten as he failed to perform personally. Debutant Jade Dernbach captured the sole wicket for England as the rest of the bowlers looked short of confidence.
Earlier in the day England’s openers failed to exert any pressure as both Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter perished in the quest for a brisk start. Kevin Pieterson and Eoin Morgan, the men who possessed the highest twenty-twenty international averages, salvaged England’s efforts with brisk forties apiece. However just as the momentum looked to be swinging to England, Sri Lanka’s bowlers struck to remove Morgan, Pieterson and Samit Patel in three successive overs.
With the loss of three quick wickets, England’s innings never recovered as they continued to see their batsmen come and go. At the end of the twenty overs England had stuttered to a disappointing 136 for 9. Morgan was the top scorer with 47. England’s line-up saw the embarrassing statistic of seven batsmen posting scores in single figures.
Suranga Lakmal continued his good form from the test series as he got the first breakthrough dismissing Lumb who was caught at mid-off. Nuwan Kulasekara chipped in next with the wicket of Kieswetter who was also caught at mid-off. With Pieterson and Morgan threatening to take the game away it was up to Malinga to bring his team back in. The slinga did not disappoint as he caught Morgan by surprise with short pitched delivery. Sanath Jayasuriya marked his return to the Sri Lankan colours by picking up the two vital wickets of Kevin Pieterson and Ravi Bopara. A mixture of poor shots, mad running and clever bowling saw England’s final charge come to a halt.