Dilshan and Upul Tharanga hammered unbeaten centuries as Sri Lanka
crushed England by 10 wickets to march into the World Cup semi-final
in style here at the R.Premadasa Stadium Saturday.
108 not out (115 balls, 10x4, 2x6) and then made sure Tharanga got
his hundred, 102 not out (122b, 12x4, 1x6), and Sri Lanka reached
the 230 run target with consummate ease in 39.3 overs. This is the
highest total chased without a single wicket lost in a World Cup
match, surpassing the 221 by West Indies against Pakistan in 1992.
Sri Lanka will now play New Zealand in the first semi-finals here
Tuesday ahead of the clash between the other two sub-continental
giants India and Pakistan at Mohali Wednesday.
The Sri Lankans will be playing the Black Caps a second time in this
edition, having easily beaten them in the group game. The Sri
Lankans had incidentally beaten England at the same stage, in the
knockout rounds, on their way to winning the 1996 World Cup.
It was an explosive stuff as Dilshan struck his second century in
the tournament, having scored 144 against Zimbabwe in the group
It was a rollercoaster ride for the Englishmen as their fortunes
fluctuae from one extreme to the other and eventually their luck ran
There was no twist in the tale Saturday. The 'unexpected' drama that
the Englishmen were able to enact right through their group stage as
Strauss mentioned in his pre-match remarks was missing this day.
Once England failed to cash in on winning a good toss by not being
able to press home the advantage from a healthy 182/3 in the batting
powerplay taken in the 43rd over, they were pushed on to the
England lost two wickets and could score only 23 runs in the
five-over powerplay that most teams have found difficult to navigate
in this World Cup.
Sri Lanka, who nearly made it difficult for themselves by poor
outcricket, dropping catches like nobody's business, crawled back
into the match and thereafter never loosened the grip.
Jonathan Trott made a gritty 86 and Eoin Morgan a chancy 50, but
England failed to hit out in the slog overs and they did not leave
enough runs for their bowlers to defend.
Tharanga and Dilshan mixed caution with aggression. England opened
the attack with medium-pacer Tim Bresnan and off-spinner Graeme
Swann, their two best bowlers of the tournament, but Dilshan and
Tharanga had little difficulty in tackling them. It was just a
matter of time when Tharanga hit the winning run and with it also
England lost an opportunity when two catches went down off Tremlett,
who himself could not hold on to a Tharanga hit on the follow.
As the partnership grew, England, who are playing non-stop for over
five months now, saw the writing on the wall clearly and just went
through the motions waiting for the match to end.
Batting did not look so easy in England's innings though and the
visitors struggled to get past 200. Electing to bat, England made a
cautious start and only 17 runs came in the first five overs and 32
in the mandatory powerplay of 10 overs.
With three frontline spinners in the side, skipper Sangakkara chose
to bowl part-timer Dilshan to share the new ball with Lasith Malinga.
Dilshan had England captain Andrew Strauss (5) in all manner of
problems, though Ian Bell (25), who replaced Matt Prior at the top
of the batting order, appeared comfortable as he rotated strike.
Trott, England's mainstay in the tournament, then added 64 runs with
Ravi Bopara (31) for the third wicket.
Muralitharan (2 for 54), who is playing his swan song international
tournament, was introduced immediately after the drinks in the 19th
over amid huge cheers from the crowd. He struck to dismiss Bopara
who missed a full toss sweeping to be lbw.
Trott and Morgan (50 off 55 balls), who got three lives, added 91
runs for the fourth wicket. They dug in even as the three Sri Lankan
spinners made life difficult for them. But the good work of the
bowlers was undone by some sloppy fielding.
Morgan was dropped thrice. Thilan Samaraweera put down a sitter at
deep point off Ajantha Mendis when he was at 17.
Muralitharan, too, felt the heat of poor fielding. First Mathews and
then Rangana Herath dropped Morgan in the 39th over, leaving the