The near 37-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya was almost forgotten by Sri Lankan Selectors few months back. But the veteran has hit back at his critics hard by scoring his 20th ODI hundred and if that wasn’t enough he picked up three wickets to enable Sri Lanka to a 46-run win in the 2nd ODI at The Oval. It was the fourth time in a row that the Lankans have come over the top of England ever since their morale boosting win in the 3rd Test Match. Sri Lanka put on a much improved show with the bat today and England continued to play poor cricket.
The Sri Lankan Innings
Sri Lanka once again got to bat first but this time it was after winning the toss. It was a good batting track and the margin of error for the bowlers looked very thin. Last match centurion Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya gave a decent opening stand but the runs were hard to come by as Steve Harmison suffocated the strokeplay with his pace and steep bounce. Sri Lanka had lost its first wicket in the form of Tharanga but not before the pair had added up 34 runs on the board after seeing off the new ball threat for 9 overs. Harmison had got the extra bounce and the away movement to extract the edge off Tharanga. The Sri Lankan Skipper Mahela Jayawardene came in and he looked positive right from the word go. After England had taken the 2nd Powerplay, both the batsmen launched an assault on the bowling by moving away from their stumps to smash few boundaries over the infielders. Sri Lanka raced to 78 for 1 after the end of the 15th over and Strauss was once again forced to hold back the 3rd powerplay.
It was consolidation time for both Jayasuriya and Jayawardene which they did well. Collingwood did not have the best of starts with the ball and that allowed the runs to come at a fair clip. England took the 3rd powerplay in the 22nd over and the onslaught from both the batsmen was back. This time the two batsmen were much more severe as they had smashed 49 runs in the 5 powerplay overs. Sajid Mahmood at this stage had dreadful figures of 5-0-59-0! Both the batsmen were keen on staying for a long time to bat England out of the match. However the massive 161 runs partnership had ended through a mix up between the two batsmen with Jayawardene run out at the non striker’s end after making a 62-ball 66 which was studded with 5 fours and a stunning pick up shot for six off Mahmood. Sangakkara was the best batsman for SL who could carry on from where Jayawardene had left and the wicket keeper batsman started to free his arms very soon. One of his shots included a glorious step out and lofted drive for a six off Jamie Dalrymple’s off breaks. Jayasuriya soon reached his 20th ODI hundred which took him just 122 balls and he had added up few more runs before getting brilliantly caught at the covers boundary by Bresnan off Harmison for 122. Jayasuriya might have gone and England might have got plenty of wickets in the slog overs but there was no stopping for the Lankans in putting up an intimidating total of 319/8 on the board. Harmsion despite all the onslaughts from the Lankans held his head high with figures of 3/31 in his 10. A total contrast to this was Sajid Mahmood who was taken for 80 runs in his 7!
The English Chase
England were off to a poor start losing its openers in the first 10 overs. Trescothick, the man in form was the first one to go out to a slashing drive off Malinga and Strauss followed him after few overs by miscuing a lofted shot off Maharoof. Pietersen was due for a big score and he got good support from the steady Ian Bell. Sri Lanka decided to get rid of their 2nd and 3rd Powerplays on trot after the first ten overs. Pietersen was staying there and he was doing his bit to keep England’s hopes alive. Bell was the next man to go mistiming his pull shot off Malinga. Pietersen could continue his fireworks with his new partner Collingwood who fitted into his role with perfection. But England’s hopes soon vanished after Pietersen was cleaned up by Jayasuriya after the big man moved away from his stumps to go for an almighty slog over mid wicket. Pietersen fell after making a 76-ball 73 and he would regret his mistake of not covering his stumps with his frontpad while going for that slog sweep. England at this stage were at 176 for 4 with still 144 to get in a little over 18 overs which was a Herculean task.
Sanath Jayasuriya in the 40th over had removed Paul Collingwood as the batsman came down the track in desperation to play a big shot over mid wicket. But the cunning Jayasuriya had adjusted well by bowling it flatter to deceive the batsman in the air to disturb his stumps. Collingwood fell for 56 and with that England were almost out of the match although Jamie Dalrymple entertained the crowd with his 37 which had one big six over mid wicket off Murali. England had lost wickets in a hurry soon and the end was inevitable and it came in just the 47th over.
There was absolutely no one who had the chance of winning the Man of the Match award other than Sanath Jayasuriya. England will have to have a serious look at their bowling attack, they will have to call up for some experienced guys rather than sticking to the rookies and watch them get brutalized. Sri Lanka would try to bring back Dilhara Fernando into the playing XI for the third match and today he had to miss out due to ankle injury. The third One Dayer is on the 24th at Chester-le-Street.