Sri Lanka beat England by 10 wickets


Butchered, battered and bruised. That was the treatment meted out by the Sri Lankan openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (108, 115b, 10×4, 2×6) and Upul Tharanga (102, 122b, 12×4, 1×6 ) to the English bowlers in the World Cup quarterfinals, which turned out to be a one-sided contest at the R Premadasa International Stadium here on Saturday.

The 1996 winners and four-time semifinalists defeated England by 10 wickets to set up a semifinal meeting with New Zealand. It will be played at the same venue on March 29.

For Sri Lanka, the target of 229 turned out to be a walk in the park. They had little respect for England’s bowling, which won the Ashes for them.

Dilshan seemed in no mood to spare his opponents and played his normal aggressive game. While his partner Tharanga chose to remain silent before bursting on the scene. But he replicated his partner’s success on a turning track that looked suddenly easy.

It was a pleasure to watch Dilshan dictating terms with free flowing drives, cuts andpulls. His best shot was, however, a six when he stepped out to hit James Tredwell over long off. Tharanga too made a good use of the opportunity by displaying some good cover drives and cuts.

Andrew Strauss’ ploy of starting with spinner Graeme Swann, who conceded 61 runs in nine overs, didn’t click. Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett looked clueless against the batsmen.

Dilshan reached his second century of the World Cup in style with a boundary off Swann while Tharanga cracked off to the three-figure mark in the 40th over with a rasping cover drive off Tremlett ending the match with 10.3 overs to spare.

England should kick themselves for the simple reason that they floundered the opportunity to bat well on a slow track, which would turn slower and more dangerous in the second innings.

The visitors’ horrendous start was overshadowed by some responsible batting from the middle-order, especially Jonathan Trott (86), Eoin Morgan (50) and cameos from Ravi Bopara (31) and Matt Prior (22 not out). England managed a respectable total of 229 for six.

Strauss, who chose to bat, was found wanting against offie Dilshan. His partner Ian Bell, meanwhile, showed aggression but he was soon caught at mid-wicket while chiping an Angelo Mathews delivery.

Trott, England’s batting mainstay, had no choice but to play cautiously. He just picked ones and twos at the long-off and on regularly. Bopara, too, was cautious in his effort. The Lankan bowlers bowled a tight line on a slow track, giving no room to the Englishmen. Bopara, meanwhile, was sent back by Muralitharan, ending his 64-run third wicket partnership with Trott.

The situation for England, however, got better with Morgan joining Trott. Trott also scored his fifth half century to become the highest scorer of the tournament with 422 runs in seven games.

Morgan, who got three lives, batted aggressively and got to his half century off 55 balls before being caught by Mathews. Trott wast dismissed in the batting powerplay but not before he took England past 200.
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