Kent v Sri Lankans, Tour match, Canterbury May 16, 2014

Sri Lankans start to hit their stride


Sri Lankans 301 for 7 (Mathews 51, Thirimanne 49, Chandimal 47*, Joseph 4-58) beat Kent 173 (Blake 60, Lakmal 3-16, Perera 3-33, Mendis 3-55) by 128 runs

Angelo Mathews hit fifty and Dinesh Chandimal an unbeaten 47 off 31 balls to set up a hefty thumping of Kent in Sri Lanka's second tour match in England. Having put out a strong side - only Lasith Malinga was rested - Sri Lanka gave a truer measure of themselves than in defeat to Essex on Tuesday, sweeping up a mixture of Kent first-teamers and irregulars for 173 on a cool, clear evening.

Suranga Lakmal immediately applied a tourniquet at the top of the innings, his opening spell of 4-1-10-2 providing both control and penetration. Alex Blake played neatly for his 60, which included reverse-sweeping Ajantha Mendis for four, but Thisara Perera plucked out key wickets during the middle overs and a long tail succumbed quickly. Without the likes of Rob Key, Darren Stevens and Brendan Nash, a Kent target in excess of 300 proved steeper than the Dover cliffs.

A partnership of 84 between Lahiru Thirimanne and Mathews provided the ballast for Sri Lanka, after a sprightly but evanescent performance from the top order. Thirimanne's high front elbow was a feature of his strokeplay, his first and only boundary coming off his 63rd delivery, while Mathews showed greater muscularity in an innings replete with bottom-handed clubs to the rope.

Mathews struck the first sixes of the contest before spooning a full toss to mid-off but Chandimal and Perera skipped along in his footprints during a rapid 71-run stand from 48 balls. Chandimal might have been caught at deep midwicket attempting to go to his half-century from the penultimate delivery of the innings but Fabian Cowdrey had to throw the ball back in as he fell towards the boundary rope.

Robbie Joseph, the one-time England Lions bowler who returned to Kent at the start of the summer, claimed 4 for 58, while James Tredwell also put in the sort of dependable shift he is known for, ahead of his involvement in the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka. He dismissed Thirimanne with one that lured the batsman out to be stumped for 49, though his figures were slightly smudged when Chandimal lofted the fourth and fifth balls of his final over for four and six.

Kent lost Daniel Bell-Drummond and Cowdrey, grandson of Colin, with the score on 17, as they struggled to get going during the Powerplay. Blake's half-century, his third in the format and first since 2010, came at a run-a-ball and a stand of 68 with Sam Billings kept them afloat but, from 148 for 5, Kent lost their last five wickets for 25. Only the combined figures of spinners Mendis and Tillakaratne Dilshan - 3 for 92 from 15 overs - would have given the tourists a moment's pause.

Sri Lanka were beaten in their first warm-up fixture, a soggy, 21-over affair in Chelmsford, but with the sun shining over hop country they found the St Lawrence ground to be a more welcoming venue. Kent's is probably the closest English ground to Colombo (though still 8,000km as the crow flies) and there were several Sri Lanka shirts on display in the crowd, as well as a flag being waved in the breeze on the Old Dover Road grass bank.

The vexed issue of Sri Lanka's junior-senior question will not be solved by one tour match but, after Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene fell for scores between 30 and 35, the contributions from Nos. 5, 6 and 7 will have encouraged Marvan Attapatu, the team's interim coach.

Sangakkara joined up with the Sri Lanka squad on Thursday, having missed the early part of the tour to play in two Championship matches for Durham, and reclaimed the wicketkeeping gloves off Chandimal (before swapping halfway through the innings). Following his 159 at Hove, he looked in good order until playing down the wrong line against Kent left-armer Adam Ball to have his stumps rattled.

After Sangakkara's dismissal, Sri Lanka appeared content to settle in, only for the longueurs to get the better of Jaywardene. Between the end of the 14th over and the beginning of the 36th only three boundaries were struck, before Mathews and Thirimanne, then Chandimal and Perera redoubled their efforts. The rate had dipped below five an over but 129 runs flowed from the last 15 as a team that should be a contender at the 2015 World Cup flashed their credentials.

After Sri Lanka's well-oiled start on a decent pitch, 300 always looked in range. Dilshan could not be much more buccaneering if he batted with a parrot on one shoulder while wearing a tricorne hat. He cut, pulled and drove his way to 35 off 28 balls before Joseph, bowling with decent pace and hitting an awkward length in his first List A game since August 2012, had him caught skying a piratical hack high to third man.

That was Joseph's second wicket, having removed Sri Lanka's other opener, Kusal Perera, with his first delivery, the batsman caught on the crease and fencing to slip. David Griffiths was not able to match Joseph's economy, however, as the tourists reached the end of the ten-over Powerplay on 64 for 2.

Charlie Hartley, Kent's 20-year-old debutant, came on for his first bowl against a pair with more than 25,000 ODI runs between them. Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene dismissed him for boundaries as the over leaked 10 runs but Hartley found better control after switching ends. Jayawardene became the third member of Sri Lanka's illustrious triumvirate to depart in the 30s when he miscued a lofted drive to mid-on to provide Hartley with his first senior wicket.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on May 17, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    Not sure why the Sri Lankans persist with Perera. From what I have seen if him he plays from the crease and away from his body. They should give the poms a run for there money if they can find a decent opening batsmen.

  • Andrew on May 17, 2014, 19:58 GMT

    What you are saying is right @goldeneye075, any national team should have their best resources in the squad all the time and should field the best 11 suited for the prevailing conditions. If SL is seriously thinking about the up coming WC in Aus/NZ, they should follow this policy! I hope the destructive political hands will stay away from the selection process, for the sake of SL & millions of SL cricket fans, who would die to see their country winning next WC! Please let the selectors do their job properly and utilize the most valuable players with experience, without discarding them.This is the only way to have any success in World Cup!

  • Samantha on May 17, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    @Priyal De Zoysa: Kusal has a much bigger problem than that. Don't you see that he doesn't have the basic skills to survive on any fast track in seaming or bouncy environment. His attacking shots are extremely limited, apart from that slog, across the line to the cow-corner, he doesn't have any proper drives, pulls in front of the wicket or glances, scoops, cuts etc. behind the wicket. He is lacking a proper difference against spin as well. His skills are extremely limited. There is no wonder why he can't survive outside subcontinent's slow decks. Kusal opened the gate within the first 5 overs, 12 times in 19 innings that he opened, since June 2013 (within 3 overs in all 7 consecutive 50over innings that he opened in Eng/Ireland - record:( 0R-01B, 6R-10B, 4R- 2B, 4R-10B, 0R-4B, 1R-3B)! He is a productive T20 player in subcontinent.

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Priyal De Zoysa - If an opening batsman is regularly getting out caught in the slips off a defensive shot that means there is something horribly wrong with his technique. Openers are more vulnerable for this mode of dismissal than others but that is why they are supposed to be specialists batting at that position. Either they should move across the stumps to counter the movement of the ball or learn to make expert judgment in leaving the ball. Sanga may be getting out this way occasionally. Only occasionally means he has mastered his technique. I am also not sure whether reasons other than cricket are involved in keeping Tharanga out. In spite of possessing same weakness as Kusal, Tharanga has learned through experience to succeed as an opener. He had a phenomenal ODI series in 2006 opening with Sanath. I am not sure after 8 years later he would enjoy same success but that was a gamble worth taking.

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    I saw some harsh comment from our fans againts kusal.pls guys think, there is only 3 games.when he is playing well we are talking too much about him but when he is out of touch we criticizing him as a week point of our team.This is not good we should give time him to adjust this seaming condition.He will be our permanent opening batmen we have found like Sanath.Pls be calm friends.....He will success next game...He will be our hero in next wc.

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    BTW there was not nothing wrong with the defensive shot Kusal played yesterday when he got out. I think bowlers have figured out his weakness that he has with the ball leaving him. (Actually Upul Tharanga also has the same wekness....and even Sanga). Joseph put it in the right place with the first ball to Kusal. I think Kusal needs to compensate for this by either 3-6" further down the crease or by moving acros his stumps to compensate for this early in his innings. Not sure if Marvan would agree with my suggestion.

  • Neranjan on May 17, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    Tharanga is a class act, and a sweet timer of the ball, likes of Mahela and Sanga. But for the moment the politics have got the better of him. It is shame such things occur, but this is Sri lanka, so it is true. Until Dilshan is in the team, there is no hope for Tharanga... I assume every one knows the story ;-)

  • Neranjan on May 17, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    Any team should have their best 11 players playing for their national side. At the moment Sanga and Mahela are the best you can find to play the number 3 & 4 positions and if so they should be always be playing at that position. As they have battled for many years to get that experience. Chandi and Thirimanna should need to get experience and need to prove them self, I do believe they are class acts as well. But they need to show and get experience batting at any position for the moment till they have their time. Let Sanga and Mahela bat at their current positions, and no team has the luxury that we have at the moment.

  • Pinidiya on May 17, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    I completely agree with @Andrew_Silva, this is what I have been saying throughout. The SL squad missing the services of a stable, experienced opener who can stem the side and play a long inning until the middle order is exposed (minimum 25 overs), while Dilshan is making the initial impact from the other end. Otherwise, its going to be a real burden on other front-order batsmen. It could trigger a middle order collapse very easily under pressure. The only SL opener who can do this is Tharanga. His track record proves it.

    Upul Tharanga is holding the WORLD Record for the MOST number of 200+ PARTNERSHIPS in ODIs. He has involved SEVEN times in 200+ partnerships for SL!. The only other player in the world, who has equaled this World Record is Aussie player Ricky Ponting! I feel that SL is going to muddle-up the whole series due to this poor selection, which cannot be explained! Anyhow, I wonder why they didn't wait until the preliminary games are over, to announce the FINAL SQUAD.???

  • Pinidiya on May 17, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    It is interesting to note the ALL-TIME Record of Eng Vs SL: Upul Tharanga has the highest Batting Average followed by AN Cook. Mahela had scored 5x100, Aravinda, Jayasuriya 4x100, Upul Tharanga 3x100, Sangakara 1x100. It is hard to understand why Upul Tharanga is missing in the Squad.??

    Upul Tharanga (SL) - Ing 11 - Runs 578 - Av 57.80 - S/R 78.00 - 3x100 - 2x50 AN Cook (Eng) - Ing 13 - Runs 592 - Av 49.33 - S/R 78.51 - 1x100 - 3x50 GA Hick (Eng) - Ing 13 - Runs 587 - Av 48.91 - S/R 72.73 - 1x100 - 3x50 HP Tillakaratne (SL) - Ing 12 - Runs 258 - Av 43.00 - S/R 55.72 - 0x100 - 2x50 M Jayawardene (SL)- Ing 32 - Runs 1242 -Av 42.82 - S/R 85.59- 5x100 - 5x50 MTrescothick (Eng) - Ing 17 - Runs 697 - Av 41.00 - S/R 85.94- 1x100 - 4x50 KC Sangakkara (SL) - Ing 28- Runs 879- Av 38.21 - S/R 72.04- 1x100 - 7x50 PA de Silva (SL) - Ing 15- Runs 458- Av 38.16 - S/R 86.41- 4x100 - 1x50 ST Jayasuriya (SL) - Ing 15- Runs 152- Av 37.34 - S/R 101.3- 4x100 - 3x50

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