Sri Lanka v England, 1st ODI, Dambulla

England stumble to ten-wicket defeat

The Wisden Bulletin by Steven Lynch

November 18, 2003

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Sri Lanka 89 for 0 (Jayasuriya 46*, Kaluwitharana 36*) beat England 88 (Collingwood 31, Vaas 3-15) by 10 wickets

All at sea: Dinusha Fernando celebrates dismissing Michael Vaughan
© Getty Images

What a difference six days and 1300 miles makes. Last week England were casually duffing up Bangladesh, the smallest boy in the playground. Today it was their turn to be on the receiving end of a sound thrashing by a more skilful and determined opponent. England were shot out for 88 - only just scraping past their lowest in ODIs, 86 against Australia at Old Trafford in 2001 - then Sri Lanka made a mockery of that by knocking off the runs in just 13.5 overs to go one-up in this three-match series.

After their collapse England needed quick wickets when play resumed under the floodlights, the questionable quality of which had helped Michael Vaughan to decide to bat first after winning the toss. In the event, though, it was lights out for England.

Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's former captain, spanked the first ball of the reply for four, and collected another boundary later in that same over from Jimmy Anderson. In all Jayasuriya sprinted to 46 from only 41 balls - there were four more fours too, and a scything six over cover off Rikki Clarke - while his old sparring partner Romesh Kaluwitharana was no slouch either, flailing 36 from 42 balls with seven punchy fours of his own. It was only England's third 10-wicket defeat in ODIs - one of the others came in Sri Lanka, too (at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo in 2000-01, in the previous match between these two sides in Sri Lanka), while the other was an equally speedy despatch by Australia, Adam Gilchrist to the fore, at Sydney last winter.

In Bangladesh England's batsmen - with the exception of Vikram Solanki - scored runs with ease. But on a green and moist pitch at Dambulla they appeared to have forgotten how to get the ball off the square. That should not take anything away from Sri Lanka's bowlers, who all exercised excellent control and accuracy - the intense pressure they applied in the first 15 overs undermined the whole England innings. Chaminda Vaas finished with the best figures, while Upul Chandana's 2 for 23 were the most expensive ... until England bowled, that is.

Andrew Strauss's delight at being given his first cap was short-lived, and it was one of Sri Lanka's own debutants who spoiled the moment. Strauss looked to drive a half-volley back past Dinusha Fernando, but the ball seamed back into him and Fernando took a good low return catch. Strauss, brought in to replace Solanki, had made 3 (8 for 1).

Nine balls earlier and it had been Fernando whose debut was starting poorly, as Marcus Trescothick smashed his first ball, a wide half-volley, to the cover boundary. But after that Trescothick was pegged back, and eventually frustration got the better of him. In the seventh over he came down the pitch to Chaminda Vaas and had a lucky escape as he edged to fine leg for four. But next ball he wasn't so lucky, as he again gave Vaas the charge but only skyed the ball to Nuwan Kulasekara - another debutant - at mid-on. Trescothick made 9 (12 for 2).

It got worse for England, and even better for Fernando. Michael Vaughan, who had looked far from confident in making 2 from 19 balls, pushed defensively at Fernando, and inside-edged onto his leg stump (17 for 3). And then Andrew Flintoff, England's hero in Bangladesh, aimed a loose, limp drive at Vaas, and only looped the ball to Kumar Sangakkara in the covers. Flintoff had made 3, and England had managed 13 scoring strokes in 15 overs as they limped to 26 for 4.

Clarke came and went, bowled for 2 by a delivery from Kulasekara which seamed back into him and kept marginally low (36 for 5). Ian Blackwell followed in Kulasekara's next over, also for 2, his aggressive cut well held low down by TM Dilshan at point (44 for 6).

Thereafter it was damage limitation, and those who last week had moaned about Bangladesh's pedestrian scoring and goal of simply batting out the full allocation of overs were made to swallow their words. Only Paul Collingwood, with a patient 31 from 96 balls, looked remotely comfortable but the damage had already been done. He eventually scooped a return catch to Chandana (59 for 8).

Ashley Giles was the only other man to reach double figures, managing 21 before a fine low catch by Mahela Jayawardene at first slip ended the struggle. Giles and Anderson scraped together 21 for the last wicket, but overall it was a forgettable display by England - and a commanding one by Sri Lanka.

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.
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