Champika Fernando at R Premadasa Stadium
Fickle selection policy was once again in full exhibition as Sri Lanka succumbed to yet another heavy defeat in the one-off T20 international against England here at the R Premadasa Stadium last night. Chasing 188 to win, Sri Lanka could muster 157 runs all out, a 30-run defeat as England wrapped up the match in style.
The hosts, who had condemned England to their heaviest defeat on Tuesday in the fifth and final ODI match, may have expected to perform a similar feat to get their hands on the trophy after losing the ODI series 3-1. Instead, they produced another below par performance to concede yet another defeat.
After letting England score a mammoth total--largely thanks to poor effort in the field which included three drop catches and a run-out--another familiar batting collapse saw the Englishmen run away with a comfortable victory.
On a good batting surface, 188 wasn’t an impossible target. But Sri Lanka made a huge blunder by chopping and changing its batting order. Sadeera Samarawickrema who together with Niroshan Dickwella laid a solid foundation for Sri Lanka’s score of 366 in the last ODI, did not find a place in the side. His replacement Kusal Mendis only made a mockery of his selection at the top of the order.
It’s a puzzle why the team management persists with Mendis at the top of the order, despite the 23-year-old increasingly proving to be a misfit as an opener. Mendis made just a run before English spinner Joe Denly bowled him while attempting to sweep across the line—an error he had committed too often.
Dickwella—the top scorer in the last ODI—was dismissed in a similar fashion to Mendis when he attempted to play Denly across the line as Sri Lanka lost their second wicket in the third over for 16 runs. Dinesh Chandimal (26), Kamindu Mendis (24) and Dananjaya de Silva (17) got the starts but failed to convert them to big scores as English seam and spin attack bowled at a disciplined line and length.
Sri Lanka skipper Thisara Perera played a lone hand with a quick-fire knock of 57 off 31 balls with six sixes but could not stop England running away with a win. Off-spinner Joe Danly (4/19) and leg-spinner Adil Rashid (3/11) were particularly impressive sharing seven wickets between them giving away just 40 runs off their eight overs.
Left-arm spinner Amila Aponsu had derailed England’s early onslaught with two quick wickets in the forth over of England’s innings after visitors got off to flying start, having been put to bat first. Jos Buttler hit straight into the hands of Dinesh Chandimal at cover, soon after he clobbered the previous ball over mid-off to the ropes as England lost their first wicket on 41.
Two balls later, Aponso struck again, trapping new man Alex Hales leg-before, when the tall right-hander played across the line. Instead of challenging the decision, Hales decided to take the long walk back to the dressing room, but the hawk-eye suggested that the ball missed the leg-stump by a margin.
A terrible mix-up between skipper Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy saw the former being run-out at the non-strikers' end as England slumped to 60 for 3 from a commanding 41 for none at the start of the fourth over. Morgan reverse swept Lakshan Sandakan in the air towards the third man but there was hesitation from the batsmen. They paid the price for this with Sandakan hitting the stumps from yards.
Jason Roy treated the Sri Lankan bowlers brutally but finally departed for a brisk 69 after surviving four times in-between. Having got off to a flyer hitting Lasith Malinga over long-on boundary in the second ball he faced, he was cruising smoothly when Sri Lanka missed running the man out on 21. After pushing the ball to mid-off, Roy ran towards the none-strikers end but was sent back. Dasun Shanaka, instead of passing the ball into the wicket-keeper, threw it straight into the back of Roy. Sri Lanka appealed on grounds of obstructing the field but the replays clearly showed otherwise.
Sri Lanka once again exposed their lack of potency in the field by dropping Roy twice in the space of three balls. Substitute fielder Sadeera Samarawickrema misjudged a slog-sweep from Roy off Sandakan at deep mid-wicket when the batsman was on 34 before Dasun Shanaka spilt a sitter at mid-on two balls later. Roy was on 41 then.
Ambidextrous Kamindu Mendis could have collected his maiden wicket had Kusal Mendis, running from cover boundary, held onto what would have been a brilliant catch soon after Jason Roy had reached his fourth half-century with a mighty six over leg-side boundary. Roy, however, succumbed to his aggression six balls later when he attempted to cut Sandakan off a widish delivery. The ball had taken a faint edge on its way to wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella. He reviewed the decision but the ultra-edge confirmed the ball hitting the bat. His innings came off just 36 balls with six sixes and four boundaries, perfectly setting the platform for a huge total. Two balls after Roy’s dismissal, the match was suspended for 64 minutes due to rain. By then, however, England had reached a commanding 113 for 4 in 11.2 overs.
Moeen Ali hit a cameo 27 off 11 balls including two back-to-back sixes off Thisara Perera’s only over before part-timer Dananjaya de Silva bowled him to end a threatening fifth wicket stand. Lasith Malinga removed both Joe Denly (20) and Ben Stoke (26) in successive balls in the penultimate over to finish with figures of 2 for 30.
Malinga’s strike restricted England under 200-runs which looked within their reach for the most part of the innings. Isuru Udana yorked Adil Rashid in the penultimate ball as England amassed 187 for 8 in the 20 over. Out of the English tota,l 108 runs came off from sixes(10x6) and boundaries (17x4), an exhibition of brutal batting against a spin-heavy Sri Lankan attack. Sri Lanka had three specialist spinners in the playing XI (Amila Aponso, Lakshan Sandakan and Kamindu Mendis) and a part-timer in Dananjaya de Silva.