England v Sri Lanka, Twenty20, Bristol June 25, 2011

Sri Lanka's comeback stars prove the difference

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For Sri Lanka the next three weeks is what their tour of England is really all about. They tried their best in the Tests, where the draws at Lord's and the Rose Bowl were commendable results, but were never going to have a serious chance of winning with such a threadbare bowling attack. Limited-overs cricket, of both the 20- and 50-over variety, is a very different story and the performance at Bristol showed what makes them such a dangerous team in coloured clothes.

In a match studded with players returning to the international scene, it was Sri Lanka's comeback stars who had, by far, the biggest influence on proceedings. Lasith Malinga, no longer a Test cricketer due to his dodgy knees, led the way with a frugal four overs that cost 15 with few of England's players able to lay a bat on him. Even those who could, such as the in-form Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan, only managed to take him for one boundary.

Malinga has lost the highlights from his hair since last appearing for Sri Lanka at the World Cup, but none of the sparkle from his bowling. It's a huge shame his body can't withstand the longer format - especially having seen some of those who are trying to replace him in the Test team - but, in a factor often overlooked by those who curse the Test verses Twenty20 debate, the short game ensures he can still dazzle on the world stage.

"With Lasith in your side it's very easy because he is a world-class bowler," Thilina Kandamby, the Sri Lanka captain, said. "I knew whenever he had a chance he would pick up wickets. He's the best in the world in that role."

It wasn't far off a perfect Twenty20 bowling display. Malinga's first over, the last of the six-over Powerplay, cost just three runs to ensure England collected a disappointing 33 for 2 from the fielding restrictions. The last ball of that over was clocked at 90mph and with the 'sling' imparted by his action was comfortably the fastest England have faced this season.

Stuart Broad knew Malinga's four overs had played a major role in changing the game. "They have some very good death bowlers," he said. "You only have to look at Malinga who is one of the best in the world and we didn't find the boundaries we needed."

Malinga isn't just about toe-crushing yorkers. He provided the key breakthrough by removing a rampant Morgan with a bouncer that was pulled to deep square-leg. Off his next 15 balls, a mixture of slower deliveries and others up at 90mph, just eight runs came from the bat and only one of those in the last over when Chris Woakes and Broad connected with nothing but fresh air. Nobody in the England side comes close to bowling yorkers so consistently.

However, it wasn't just Malinga who was important with the ball. Nuwan Kulasekara, not long ago the No. 1 bowler in one-day cricket, kept up early pressure and the subsequent stand of 83 in nine overs between Pietersen and Morgan was the only time Sri Lanka lost control. The man who helped restore their grip was their most controversial inclusion. Sanath Jayasuriya's left-arm darts have not lost any effectiveness in his two years away from the international scene and as a farewell to Twenty20 internationals his 2 for 18 was a handy return.

His skiddy angle defeated Pietersen's cut and also bowled Ravi Bopara the ball after he'd hit the only boundary in the final eight overs. His effectiveness makes it even odder that he wasn't willing to extend his international farewell for the duration of the one-day matches. As it is, the last England will see of Jayasuriya will be at The Oval on Tuesday. Malinga, though, will be around for longer and that is likely to give the home side more problems.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2011, 22:55 GMT

    so...i am wondering if the debacle in the first one day means anything or will the lankan fans find excuses like South Africa, Ireland and England contributed in beating Sri Lanka..not to mention Ravi Bopara as a substitute fielder. Overrated team and delusional fans.

  • POSTED BY schathuranga on | June 28, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    We r happy because we win.why indians so sad..he..he

  • POSTED BY schathuranga on | June 28, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    Why Indians sooo jelous??they afraid malinga or what?We always producing great world class bowlers.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    Lot of people stress the fact that SL is a good ODI team but not for tests. If they are not a good test side they will not be ranked 4th. They are in transition in there test match cricket and it will take least 1 year for them to settle. Then you will comment on SL differently.

  • POSTED BY Sonamt on | June 27, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    For people to say that the test series result could have been different if Malinga had played is about as laughable as me saying the result of this T20 match would have been so different had Tremlett, Anderson, Trott and Prior played. Malinga has never been much more than a one day bowler. Bowling straight yorkers in test cricket for 4 overs will not get you very far when nobody needs to force the pace. Similarly, England's world-class test players are often shown up in one day cricket, as they don't have the luxury of settling in for 10 overs before showing what they're capable of. The two formats are totally different. As great player as Mahela is, he looked like a million dollars in the T20 and Rs 2.50 in the tests. That says something about the different demands in different formats.

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    @ donda, no credit to lankans until they win in da odi's? lol 136 for 1 in 20 overs, to me is a clear indication of how we will perform in da 50 over format. 9 wickets to bat for 30 overs, no credit to ipl at all, ppl like malinga make da ipl worth watching...

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | June 26, 2011, 20:33 GMT

    You know what - ? I still can't be bothered....

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Swombats: Your comments are like fox and the sour grapes story. Mind you, this is a T20 game which requires totally different tactics. Full tosses were not the only tactic used by Sri Lankans. There were yokers slower balls and very good swing bowling upfront. The better team by a distance won the match.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    After my dose of reality..I want to go on record to say that 3 players standout from the current crop...Mahela, Kumara and Malinga. Used to like the smiling assassin when he played as well...people tend to forget how BCCI supported the associate nations. the Lankans have obviously forgetten that once upon a time they could not even beat TAMIL NADU for the M J GOPALAN trophy..and it was INDIA who helped get Sri Lanka test status.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 15:57 GMT

    the lankan fans have a serious case of napolean complex, exaggerated egos and a pathetic team to root for...so even a T20 win makes them the best team in the world and have suddenly become world beaters. They could not survive 30 overs in a test match and have used everything from the IPL and BCCI to blame for their abject lack of game. My last comment about the lankans did not get published but it is time somebody broke the lankan fans out of their delusion.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2011, 22:55 GMT

    so...i am wondering if the debacle in the first one day means anything or will the lankan fans find excuses like South Africa, Ireland and England contributed in beating Sri Lanka..not to mention Ravi Bopara as a substitute fielder. Overrated team and delusional fans.

  • POSTED BY schathuranga on | June 28, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    We r happy because we win.why indians so sad..he..he

  • POSTED BY schathuranga on | June 28, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    Why Indians sooo jelous??they afraid malinga or what?We always producing great world class bowlers.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    Lot of people stress the fact that SL is a good ODI team but not for tests. If they are not a good test side they will not be ranked 4th. They are in transition in there test match cricket and it will take least 1 year for them to settle. Then you will comment on SL differently.

  • POSTED BY Sonamt on | June 27, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    For people to say that the test series result could have been different if Malinga had played is about as laughable as me saying the result of this T20 match would have been so different had Tremlett, Anderson, Trott and Prior played. Malinga has never been much more than a one day bowler. Bowling straight yorkers in test cricket for 4 overs will not get you very far when nobody needs to force the pace. Similarly, England's world-class test players are often shown up in one day cricket, as they don't have the luxury of settling in for 10 overs before showing what they're capable of. The two formats are totally different. As great player as Mahela is, he looked like a million dollars in the T20 and Rs 2.50 in the tests. That says something about the different demands in different formats.

  • POSTED BY on | June 27, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    @ donda, no credit to lankans until they win in da odi's? lol 136 for 1 in 20 overs, to me is a clear indication of how we will perform in da 50 over format. 9 wickets to bat for 30 overs, no credit to ipl at all, ppl like malinga make da ipl worth watching...

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | June 26, 2011, 20:33 GMT

    You know what - ? I still can't be bothered....

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Swombats: Your comments are like fox and the sour grapes story. Mind you, this is a T20 game which requires totally different tactics. Full tosses were not the only tactic used by Sri Lankans. There were yokers slower balls and very good swing bowling upfront. The better team by a distance won the match.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    After my dose of reality..I want to go on record to say that 3 players standout from the current crop...Mahela, Kumara and Malinga. Used to like the smiling assassin when he played as well...people tend to forget how BCCI supported the associate nations. the Lankans have obviously forgetten that once upon a time they could not even beat TAMIL NADU for the M J GOPALAN trophy..and it was INDIA who helped get Sri Lanka test status.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 15:57 GMT

    the lankan fans have a serious case of napolean complex, exaggerated egos and a pathetic team to root for...so even a T20 win makes them the best team in the world and have suddenly become world beaters. They could not survive 30 overs in a test match and have used everything from the IPL and BCCI to blame for their abject lack of game. My last comment about the lankans did not get published but it is time somebody broke the lankan fans out of their delusion.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    if dilshan returns for first odi what a top 4 sri lanka will have dilshan jaysuriya sanga ,jayawardne

  • POSTED BY triassicpark on | June 26, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    @herath there are many ppl who are claiming what will happen to India if they come in early summer. It's a hypothetical question. We have become no.1 due to constant hardwork and it was not achieved overnight. If Indians are so poor in tests according to you I am sure your sentiments will not be shared by a lot of ppl. I am expecting a good contest and hopefully India triumphs.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    5wombats dude. I think it's all been covered to be honest, but one point: The only full toss I remember is the one Woakes bowled to Mahela about 3 overs in. Guess what-it went to the point boundary. It's just a shame "the best team in the worl" couldn't do the same to such "tripe" bowling.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    SL are always one of d best side in one days & t20. so eng should be ready to lose :P

  • POSTED BY manjithakumara on | June 26, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    5wombats : you say you dont care about t20 and it's very funny you throw boots at the TV screen. May be that's your way of not caring of something ha haa...

  • POSTED BY manjithakumara on | June 26, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    5wombats : you say you dont care about t20 and it's very funny you throw boots at the TV screen. May be that's your way of not caring of something ha haa...

  • POSTED BY Exmaxer123 on | June 26, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    @5wombats : WE ARE VERY SORRY DEAR..... READY FOR A, ~~WIDE WASH AGAIN LIKE 2006~~

    and also ready to throw your other boots.... and buy a norther pair..... ha ha

  • POSTED BY Exmaxer123 on | June 26, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    @donda : Sri lankans are always was a attacking side in the world. our bowlers and bats mans are the top ranked players. they play always like lions. that is the story behind them. we have our t20 premier league so that our players don't want to depend on IPL as you are saying. in the IPL, our players have showed their colors. i think u can remember DILSHAN, JAYASOORIYA, MAHELA, SANGA, MURALI, MATHEWS, MALINGA. so you cant measure their talent like that.ok? You can see the two captains of ipl represent the Sri lanka. Most of captains are foreign players. INDIAN team also couldn't get the value of IPL. That is y they defeated in T20 world cup. so no any argument dear, WE ARE BEST..... and WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE............ You just wait and see about our ~SLPL~ . CHUCK DE SRI LANKA..........

  • POSTED BY Roar911 on | June 26, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    @5wombats- oh u cant be bothered? yet u bothered to write that eh? lovely.... and bowling fulltoss is a tactic? even a 5th grader would smash those deliveries and morgan n kp did just that.. it was spinners + malinga did the trick. ...and why should SL put unwanted slogging into this match? ...136 in t20 is usually a walk in the park! too bad u hav to resort to test series from now on! lol. ....giving broad the captaincy is good, ofcoz he'l lose some games, but he will be a matured cricketer in no time! i doubt about 5-0, but surely SL can win the series!

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    Back in Business... Lions rules the CRICKET World!!!

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | June 26, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    I'd reply - but I can't be bothered. Btw "tripe" means rubbish & "tactic" was my use of IRONY....

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Even In TEST ENGLND is nothing than average...They should visit SL & IND & win there..otherwise They can never remove their semi minnow tag..few wins in Early summer in doctored pitches at home wont make Eng a world class TEST team..They are a AVERAGE or SEMI MINNOW till the win in Subcontinent...last tme we toured ENG we a TEST,,,but Eng ,when they toured SL last TWO times they havnt gave even a fight

  • POSTED BY SpartaArmy on | June 26, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    Malinga is a very good bowler, but it is not fair to say that Mainga is better than Steyn. Steyn is way ahead when compared to any contemporary bowlers (atleast in tests).

  • POSTED BY sandunsba on | June 26, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    there is nothing to prove for sl in odi & t20.they have well strong side.but the only weakness the middle num 5.6.7 batsmen will be end since this sris. kandamby.methws jewan will show how the are stong foe the middle order. but tharanga's missing is some damage.mahela will open with dil.bt if sanath play whole the odis this time it will be the best for sl.bt he will not playing nxt 4 games.hopefully dinesh will play in num4.othervise no option for sl. the bet team will be without sanath dilshan.mahela.sanga.dinesh.kandamby.methws.jeewan.malinga.nuwan. thisara or suranga. thisara is little bit out of form.suranga will play. england will have be very tactical when they are playing with such astrong side in colors.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    Sri Lanka's comeback was england retreival to the den. Hopefully, the comeback stars will give the light during the entire series without really twinkling on & off. England should recall the tremletts, andersons & the likes if sun light is to override the stars of Sri Lanka......

  • POSTED BY Mitsui on | June 26, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    @donda: SL must thank the IPL for winning the game? hahaha last time I checked Sanath didn't play the IPL and he is the one who caused the turning point of the game (KP's wicket) Malinga is arguably the best t20 bowler so IPL just allows him to showcase his abilities. Maybe England should thank BCCI for winning the test series and Charlotte Edwards and the rest of the English women team should also thank IPL. Wait, Every team should thank IPL and BCCI for winning matches. Man, the stuff people think!!

  • POSTED BY manjithakumara on | June 26, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    @5wombats : funny you say that. Only Thisara Perera bowled full tosses and he was punished severely by English batsmen. But when Malinga came they had no answers. It showed English batsman's class against quality bowling. I'd say English batsmen knew only to bully weak bowlers. But they couldn't handle quality bowling even in their own conditions.

    It is clearly evident that Sri Lanka out did England in all departments of the game. Fielding was very good from Lankans except for one dropped catch off Morgan. Batting was excellent. Chased very easily and more importantly without taking any risks.

    But yes I agree on one thing with 5wombats, it was a poor game. Why? coz England couldn't even closly set the kind of high standards Sri Lankans set on that day.

  • POSTED BY venkatesh018 on | June 26, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    England made a mockery of themselves and the watching public by their team selection and performance. How can Ian Bell be left out in favour of Lumb/Samit Patel baffles me. It is only one match, but Stuart Broad looked out of depth in the captaincy department. Specialists like Anderson, Tremlett, Bell and Trott must come back for the ODIs.

  • POSTED BY CandidIndian on | June 26, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    Congratulations to Srilankan friends from India.

  • POSTED BY chandau on | June 26, 2011, 3:48 GMT

    lol 5wombats: exactly when did they realize how awful SL bowling was? at the presentation ceromany?? LMAO "And Sri Lankas bowling really was tripe. Only KP & Morgan knew what to do with it." he he heee but then mate KP & EM faced how many balls alltogether - less than 10 overs!! if the bowling was tripe as u say mate, why did they not go on and make a couple of centuries lol what happened to the much hyped up england batting line up mate? after all aren't u the world T20 champions lol :)

    "Still - it's only T20 so who cares. Roll on the India Test matches." yeah sour grapes for the world champions by a fluke. just u wait mate. After SL thrash u again 5 : zero , zip, zilch in the ODI the players will have nightmares and will be sitting ducks for the INDIANS. remember mate, the TEST series is in the height of summer (if there is one in uk) and with the sun on their backs (hopefully) the Indians will thrash you in all forms of cricket al pop goes the #1 ranking :) cheers

  • POSTED BY sanath007 on | June 26, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    Sri Lanka will crush England in ODI's as well.Malinga is the best ever T20 bowler by far in the world

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 2:24 GMT

    @5wonbats.. you're in denial, regardless of what you say, those 2 english batsmen who "APPARENTLY" figured SL's bowling out, still got out.. Not to mention, only the Imports in this English team perform, otherwise its lackluster as usual.

    I'll admit, we are not good at tests. That primarily because of we don't have bowlers. There is too much pressure on our batting to. However, I believe one day we'll put that fight up as well. But for now, SL were the better side for this one off T20 Game!

    DEAL WITH IT!

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    simply awsm jz so proud to be a lion :D roarrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 2:17 GMT

    I'd love to see more of jayasuriya.

  • POSTED BY Cannuck on | June 26, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    @5wombats: So if it wasn't SL bowling or batting that beat your team, what did? May be its the rain? cold weather? wrong selections? wrong captain? let's see what else.. or, or.. I got it... may be the crooked pitch which was flat.... no wait, I know! your team just gave the win to the Sri Lankans, right? I guess you guys are so generous that you will donate the T20 & ODI series to SL? Gee thanks, your royal highness, we will do the sweeping gladly!!

  • POSTED BY NIPPY_89 on | June 26, 2011, 2:07 GMT

    @5wombats, how can bowling fultosses be a tactic? it was just bad bowling. thisara perera did that and he got smashed. i agree that the english batting was bad but u cant take away any credit for the sri lankan bowling.

  • POSTED BY donda on | June 26, 2011, 1:34 GMT

    Lets see what happens in ODI series because i doubt that Srilanka will be able to win ODI because there is a reason. All Srilankan players are in T2020 form due to IPL and they will be checked in seaming conditions in ODI.

    This is a good win by srilanka but longer version ODI will be a big test for srilanka because its england in england with ball seaming a lot.

    The credit of this T2020 win goes to IPL therefore i don't give credit to Srilanka until they win the ODI series. which will be hard for them.

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 1:17 GMT

    @Luke coz hes very very old

  • POSTED BY NIPPY_89 on | June 25, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    if you dont care about t20, why were u throwing boots at the tv screen?

  • POSTED BY KingOwl on | June 25, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    England were jut lucky that SL's best bowlers did not take part in the test series.

  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    It was all too easy for Sri Lankans, They outplayed England Comprehensively. I think Sri Lankans and Pakistanis have the best limited over bowling unit

  • POSTED BY Herath-UK on | June 25, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    Lankans were not poor in the Tests as portrayed considering the cold,the rain, multiple starts & stops and the moving bowl and the biggest of all,team coming to England in dribs and drabs with no proper training together at all.Can any body say for sure whether the Indians would have been better in similar situation?answer is simply NO.ECB should discuss these issues seriously,as the impact of IPL on early tours will be an annual problem. Ranil Herath- Kent

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | June 25, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    A poor game. Sri Lankas tactics of bowling so many full tosses surprised England so much. They only realised too late just how awful the bowling was. And Sri Lankas bowling really was tripe. Only KP & Morgan knew what to do with it. England batting lost this game - it wasn't SL batting that won it and it most certainly wasn't the bowling either. Bopara & Wright were - no I'll say it; pathetic, I was throwing boots at the TV screen. Still - it's only T20 so who cares. Roll on the India Test matches.

  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    Why Jayasuriya retiring? may I ask?

  • POSTED BY dilanz51 on | June 25, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    Who needs Steyn when we got Malinga. He is arguably the best bowler in the world.

  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    If malinga was in the test team...thing could have chaged

  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 18:31 GMT

    Lankans are way ahead of England when it comes to ODI and T20... Full stop :) From a Pakistani Fan

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  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 18:31 GMT

    Lankans are way ahead of England when it comes to ODI and T20... Full stop :) From a Pakistani Fan

  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    If malinga was in the test team...thing could have chaged

  • POSTED BY dilanz51 on | June 25, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    Who needs Steyn when we got Malinga. He is arguably the best bowler in the world.

  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    Why Jayasuriya retiring? may I ask?

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | June 25, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    A poor game. Sri Lankas tactics of bowling so many full tosses surprised England so much. They only realised too late just how awful the bowling was. And Sri Lankas bowling really was tripe. Only KP & Morgan knew what to do with it. England batting lost this game - it wasn't SL batting that won it and it most certainly wasn't the bowling either. Bopara & Wright were - no I'll say it; pathetic, I was throwing boots at the TV screen. Still - it's only T20 so who cares. Roll on the India Test matches.

  • POSTED BY Herath-UK on | June 25, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    Lankans were not poor in the Tests as portrayed considering the cold,the rain, multiple starts & stops and the moving bowl and the biggest of all,team coming to England in dribs and drabs with no proper training together at all.Can any body say for sure whether the Indians would have been better in similar situation?answer is simply NO.ECB should discuss these issues seriously,as the impact of IPL on early tours will be an annual problem. Ranil Herath- Kent

  • POSTED BY on | June 25, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    It was all too easy for Sri Lankans, They outplayed England Comprehensively. I think Sri Lankans and Pakistanis have the best limited over bowling unit

  • POSTED BY KingOwl on | June 25, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    England were jut lucky that SL's best bowlers did not take part in the test series.

  • POSTED BY NIPPY_89 on | June 25, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    if you dont care about t20, why were u throwing boots at the tv screen?

  • POSTED BY on | June 26, 2011, 1:17 GMT

    @Luke coz hes very very old