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July 3, 2011
Sri Lanka's captain Tillakaratne Dilshan admitted he was 'disappointed' with how his team crossed the winning line at Lord's, as Angelo Mathews blocked out overs and declined singles to allow Dinesh Chandimal to reach his second one-day international hundred. However, he added, the value of that innings to a young batsman would bring huge benefits for the team.
England's captain Alastair Cook, on the other hand, was less fulsome in his praise of the slightly farcical scenes. At one point the 12th man tried to come on with a pair of gloves but was waved away by the umpire only for Mathews to signal he needed a new bat. Kevin Pietersen then became involved in an exchange of views - in what is becoming a slightly bad-tempered series for England - before the situation was ended two balls later when Chandimal swung Tim Bresnan for six over long-on to reach his hundred.
As Chandimal celebrated, the England players stood stony-faced in their positions. "It was different, I've never seen that before," Cook said. "They were perfectly entitled to do it if they want but it was a bit strange and the cricketing gods may look at that in a bit of disgust."
The instructions hadn't come from the Sri Lanka dressing room and Dilshan could be seen becoming increasingly restless, especially when Mathews turned down a single with Chandimal almost sharing his crease at the striker's end. "I was disappointed when Mathews didn't take a single, but they haven't played too much cricket," he said.
"I'm really happy he got a hundred. We are working as a team, it shows we are playing like a family and everyone saw we are a unit. Getting a hundred at Lord's is special. Overall I'm really happy at the end result."
There was never any real danger of the result being impacted - even if Cook thought "it got a bit close" - and it was the venue that was the motivating factor behind Sri Lanka's tactics. "I'm very happy because it's an historical ground," Chandimal said.
Dilshan was able to appreciate the meaning of three-figures at Lord's having made 193 during the Test match, but Chandimal won't have his name up in the dressing room as the honours boards only cover Tests. "Any cricketer wants to have a hundred at Lord's. I came here and did it in the Test match," Dilshan said. "We still talk about the older Sri Lanka cricketers who got hundreds at Lord's and we want to leave something for the youngsters who come in 10-15 years' time."
While the finish was slightly messy and undignified, it shouldn't disguise another impressive performance from Sri Lanka. That Chandimal, at 21 a player for the future, played such a key role only bodes well for the development of the team. He has spent a lot of time on the tour carrying drinks, and managed to run himself out at Headingley having replaced the retired Sanath Jayasuriya, so this innings showed resolve.
"Chandimal played like an experienced guy and batted throughout the innings and he finished the game which is a good sign for Sri Lanka cricket," Dilshan said. "With guys like myself, Mahela and Sanga we have a good unit and we have played well in the last two matches."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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