Superb Sri Lanka cruise into semis
Sri Lanka openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan delivered a one-day batting masterclass to set up a World Cup semi-final with New Zealand.
Tharanga and man of the match Dilshan made light of England’s 229 for six by completing a 10-wicket triumph in 39.3 overs at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium, where they will return to for Tuesday’s last-four game.
Dilshan finished on 108 from 115 balls, featuring 10 fours and two sixes, before Tharanga completed victory with his 12th four to go to 102 from 122 deliveries, including one maximum.
The first-wicket pair, who shared a 282-run alliance in the group victory over Zimbabwe, occasionally lived dangerously but prospered from an attacking approach at odds with England’s conservative effort, forced on them by Sri Lanka’s tight bowling.
Only Jonathan Trott came to terms with an attack boasting three spinners and he could afford few risks after England slipped to 31 for two.
Trott continued his outstanding winter form, taking his World Cup run-tally to 422 - the most in the competition, with 86 from 115 deliveries. The number three batsman negotiated searing afternoon heat, sharing a steady half-century stand with Ravi Bopara and a swift one with Eoin Morgan.
Morgan’s alliance with Trott was the only period during which England scored freely. Their first 100 runs occupied 28 overs in contrast to 19 for Sri Lanka. While England’s second came from a little more than 18, Tharanga and Dilshan had little difficulty in bettering that.
England were unfortunate that several outstanding deliveries, notably from Graeme Swann, were not rewarded and the chances Sri Lanka offered were not regulation. The hosts, however, could only blame themselves for the lives they gifted England.
Dublin-born Morgan enjoyed the luck of the Irish, reprieved four times including three drops, en route to 50 from 55 balls. His departure early in the batting powerplay cost England momentum and they fell short of the score they had threatened.
Andrew Strauss earlier won a seemingly important toss and announced an unchanged side - meaning Tim Bresnan had overcome a calf injury - and Kumar Sangakkara revealed one alteration with Rangana Herath playing in place of seamer Nuwan Kulasekara.
Ian Bell, promoted to open in place of Matt Prior, neatly clipped Lasith Malinga off his pads for four in the first over to reach 3,000 ODI runs and did the bulk of the early scoring as Strauss struggled against the lack of pace.
Strauss’ laboured innings ended when he misjudged an attempted pull off part-time spinner Dilshan to be bowled for five from 19 deliveries.
Bell followed in the next over, chipping Angelo Mathews to midwicket on 25, as England only managed 32 from the first 10 overs.
Bopara and Trott negotiated the immediately-taken bowling powerplay despite optimistic stumping appeals against both off Ajantha Mendis.
Herath failed with an lbw review against Bopara, who along with Trott eked out runs without finding the boundary. Their half-century alliance came from 83 balls.
They successfully negotiated Muttiah Muralitharan for four overs until Bopara, on 31, attempted to sweep only to be trapped in front by a full delivery, despite a hapless review.
Morgan struck England’s first boundary for 17 overs, chipping Malinga over cover, and a flurry of fours followed including Trott’s first - from his 65th ball - which made him the competition’s leading scorer.
Morgan was gifted his first life on 16 when Thilan Samaraweera put down a sitter off Mendis, coming in from the cover boundary. The left-hander soon reached 2,000 ODI runs and his fifty-partnership with Trott came from just 48 balls.
Sri Lanka surprisingly opted not to review a leg before appeal when Malinga struck Morgan in front on 29 - replays showed it was out - and he was soon put down twice in three balls off the exasperated Muralitharan by Mathews on the cover boundary and Herath at point.
Morgan’s luck ran out in the 43rd over - the first of the batting powerplay - when Mathews, coming off the cover rope, held on off Malinga. Swann, sent in as a pinch-hitter, lasted just one ball before he was trapped in front by Mendis attempting to reverse-sweep.
With the five overs of fielding restrictions only yielding 23 runs, Trott was held on the square-leg boundary off Muralitharan who struggled with his injured hamstring in the penultimate over. Prior’s unbeaten 22 at better than a run a ball was a welcome late shot in the arm for England.
Tharanga made an early statement of intent, lifting Swann - who opened the bowling alongside Bresnan - down the ground for six, but Dilshan rode his luck against the swinging new ball. Tharanga survived on 32 going for a similar shot off James Tredwell when Chris Tremlett pulled out of a tricky catch at long-off.
Having delayed taking the bowling powerplay, Tredwell and Luke Wright briefly stemmed the runs until Dilshan smashed the former for a maximum over long-off, reopening the floodgates.
Dilshan and Tharanga reached 50 in quick succession before the latter survived tough caught and bowled chances against Tremlett on 58 and 60.
Strauss finally took the bowling powerplay in the 29th over and Sri Lanka’s openers responded by upping the ante further with 40 coming from it.
Dilshan was relentless, sweeping Swann for six to the longest boundary on the ground and cutting the spinner for four to register his hundred. Dilshan, batting with a runner due to cramp, then reigned himself in to allow Tharanga to follow him to a century with a cover-driven four off Tremlett.