Things were already in England’s favour when the heavens opened during the 29th over of Sri Lanka’s innings as the visitors won the second ODI by 31 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method here at the Dambulla International Cricket ground yesterday. Sri Lanka had done well to restrict England 278 for nine after seamer Lasith Malinga [...]


Malinga magic not sufficient to contain marauding England

Sri Lanka vs England 2nd ODI at Dambulla

An agitated fast bowler Lasith Malinga points out to his name tag on his T-Shirt obviously referring to an earlier incident in his career as he completes his fifth wicket of the inning - Pic by Priyantha Wickramaarachchi

Things were already in England’s favour when the heavens opened during the 29th over of Sri Lanka’s innings as the visitors won the second ODI by 31 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method here at the Dambulla International Cricket ground yesterday.

Sri Lanka had done well to restrict England 278 for nine after seamer Lasith Malinga displayed a glimpse of his old heroics but a dramatic batting collapse handed Sri Lanka their eighth defeat in ten matches at the venue.

England ripped through the top order, taking the first five wickets for 74 runs, leaving the middle and tail to climb a mountain to notch an unlikely win.

Dhananjaya de Silva (36 not out) and Thisara Perera (44 not out) tried in desperation to get closer to the par score with rain looming but could only manage a 66-run stand for the sixth wicket off 13 overs.

Sri Lanka’s chase kicked off horrendously with experienced opener Upul Tharanga returning to the dressing room for a first ball duck off Chris Woakes before Niroshan Dickwella became the maiden victim of debutant Olly Stone. Stone made an immediate impression with a terrific bounce which ballooned off his glove to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler as Sri Lanka lost their second wicket for 16 runs.

Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who had promoted himself up the batting order hoping to stabilize the innings, lasted just 13 balls before an inside edge off Woakes rattled his stumps. He was soon followed by Dasun Shanaka who became Woakes’s third victim giving a thick outside edge to the wicket-keeper as Sri Lanka fell to 4 for 31. Kusal Perera offered a little resistance but he too perished, leaving Dananjaya de Silva and Thisara Perera to bat on until the rains interrupted play.

Earlier, slinger Lasith Malinga came back and wrote his own script, claiming his first five wicket haul in four-and-half years to derail England’s hope for a mammoth total dash after Sri Lanka put tourists to bat first under gloomy conditions.

The 37-year-old, who had just returned to the side after a long break due to fitness issues, had a point to prove and did it in style, possibly earning a permanent place in the side — at least up to next year’s World Cup. But Malinga was sceptical about his future.

“I don’t have many plans,” he said at the post match press conference. “I hope the team will not change by the time we reach Kandy. If I’m there in the team, I will do my best. I wanted to play up to the World Cup but I don’t think I will be selected.

Malinga, a master of variation and toe-crushing Yorkers, changed his pace so subtly that most English batsmen could not read him, including England’s top scorer Eoin Morgan who offered a returned catch just eight runs short of what could have been a great counter-attack innings.

Morgan rate  Malinga  highly.

“I rate him highly,” Morgan said. “He certainly stole the momentum away from us today. We were in a very solid position to go past a par score and edge to 300 but we didn’t manage to do that. He bowled beautifully, his variations cause a few issues for batsmen coming in early, he’s such a unique bowler, you can’t replicate him, you have to face balls to get used to him.”

The slower ball from the lower arm proved devastating as Malinga ripped through the middle order to finish with figures of 5 for 42—a fascinating effort from the seamer. Amidst all the negativity surrounding the national team, Malinga’s impressive comeback was seen as the only silver lining in the game that was otherwise dominated by England in an impressive all-round effort.

Having given the early breakthrough by removing England opener Jason Roy with his fourth ball of the innings, Malinga reserved his best for the death overs, claiming the next four wickets in the final spell of the innings.

England had reached a commanding 218 for 4 and were setting themselves up for a huge score but Malinga ripped through English middle-order, including two off two in the 42nd over to derail England’s ascend.

English skipper Morgan, who has batted incredibly under tough conditions till then, was confused by a slower ball from Malinga and chipped in straight into bowler’s hands, bringing an end to a crafty 92 off 91 balls. He seemed distraught as he walked back to the dressing room for not having picked the slower ball from Malinga, inviting Moeen Ali to take guard.

But Ali had his stump dismantled in the next ball with a Malinga classic, the slow yorker, knocking down the castle England had so carefully built. From 218 for 4, England fell for 218 for 6. Malinga could not complete the hat-trick when he bowled a beamer to new-man Chris Woakes. But he got his man five overs later when Woakes was trapped leg before on a referral.

A slow ball yorker deceived Woakes and rapped him on the pads. He was given not out but the hawkeye confused everyone by suggesting that the ball actually will knock the good part of the leg stumps. Woakes departed and Malinga had his fourth. Liam Dawson was yorked with an absolute stunner as Malinga completed a masterclass, a performance of perfection.

England’s innings was decorated by two fascinating spells. Joe Root completed his 29th ODI half century and shared two 71 and 68 runs for the second and third wicket to put England in the box seat by the 29th over. Root on 48, was given a lifeline by Dhananjaya de Silva at midwicket off Lakshan Sandakan and added a further 23 runs before de Silva had him caught at cover by Akila Dananjaya. With Root’s exit, Sri Lanka thought they had a chance of keeping things quiet only to find Morgan responding with a masterclass to steer the ship.

The teams will now travel to Kandy for the third and fourth ODI before heading to Colombo for the final ODI and the one-off T20.


England innings
Jason Roy c Dananjaya b Malinga 0
(Batsman shapes to work it through the on side, popped a simple catch to mid-wicket)
Jonny Bairstow b Perera 26
(Looks to drive, beaten and bowled)
Joe Root c Dananjaya b de Silva 71
(Tries to tuck this delivery to the leg side, lobs a simple catch)
Eoin Morgan c and b Malinga 92
(Slower ball, chips a simple catch back to the bowler)
Ben Stokes c de Silva b Dananjaya 15
(Misreads the googly, outside edge, loops to point)
Jos Buttler b Pradeep 28
(Attempts to hit a high full toss over mid wicket, misses and bowled)
Mooen Ali b Malinga 0
(A slower yorker, misses it completely)
Chris Woakes lbw b Malinga 5
(Slower-ball yorker, rapped on the pads – ruled out after review)
Liam Dawson b Malinga 4
(Another yorker and the batsman beaten and bowled)
Adil Rashid not out 19
Olly Stone not out 9
Extras (lb3, nb2, w4) 9
Total (50 overs; 9 wickets) 278
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Roy), 2-72 (Bairstow), 3-140 (Root), 4-190 (Stokes), 5-218 (Morgan), 6-218 (Ali), 7-245 (Buttler), 8-249 (Woakes), 9-254 (Dawson)
Bowling: Lasith Malinga 10-1-44-5, Nuwan Pradeep 10-0-52-1, Akila Dananjaya 10-0-64-1, Thisara Perera 7-0-37-1, Lakshan Sandakan 9-0-59-0, Dhananjaya de Silva 4-0-19-1
Sri Lanka innings
Niroshan Dickwella c Buttler b Stone 9
(Fends off at a sharp bouncer, top edges to wicketkeeper)
Upul Tharanga c Buttler b Woakes 0
(Good length at off stump, takes a thin outside edge through to wicketkeeper)
Dinesh Chandimal b Woakes 6
(Looks to play off the back foot, takes a big inside edge to the stumps)
Kusal Perera c Roy b Dawson 30
(Goes back to pull, gets caught at mid-wicket)
Dasun Shanaka c Buttler b Woakes 8
(Short of a length at off stump, takes a thick outside edge to the keeper)
Dhananjaya de Silva not out 36
Thisara Perera not out 44
Extras (b1, lb2, w4) 7
Total (29 overs; 5 wickets) 140
Did not bat: Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep
Fall of wickets: 1-9 (Tharanga), 2-16 (Dickwella), 3-20 (Chandimal), 4-31 (Shanaka), 5-74 (K. Perera)
Bowling: Chris Woakes 5-0-26-3, Olly Stone 6-0-23-1, Liam Dawson 6-0-26-1, Moeen Ali 10-0-47-0, Adil Rashid 2-0-15-0

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