Arnold steers Sri Lanka to comfortable win over England
Sri Lanka celebrated the birth of their eighth international venue by clinching a comfortable five-wicket victory over England in the first One-Day International in Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium today.
In reply to England's total of 143, Russel Arnold with an unbeaten 39 guided the hosts to victory with more than nine overs left.
England threatened to fight their way back into the match when they took four wickets for 27 runs in the middle of the innings, reducing Sri Lanka from 31 without loss to 58 for four in the 16th over.
But a partnership of 70 for the fifth wicket between Arnold and Marvan Atapattu (40) steered Sri Lanka out of trouble.
Sanath Jayasuriya had started the innings in sensational fashion, hitting ten runs from Andrew Caddick's first over and then going on to make 39 from just 35 balls. It looked like Sri Lanka were going to score the required runs at a canter, but Romesh Kaluwitharan, who had started quietly, drove loosely at an away swinger from Andrew Caddick and was caught behind for two.
Then, just after passing the fifty in the ninth over, Jayasuriya was adjudged lbw to Alan Mullally. Mahela Jayawardene followed his captain back to the dressing room, as he edged a good delivery from Darren Gough and Kumar Sangakkara became the third batsmen to be caught behind when he pushed at a wide delivery from Andrew Caddick.
Earlier in the day England openers Alec Stewart and Marcus Trescothick started the innings positively as the new ball came on to the bat and added 31 runs for the first wicket. Stewart was the most aggressive of the two, as he stroked four boundaries, including one lofted drive for six off Nuwan Zoysa in the sixth over.
Zoysa, however, had the last laugh as he nipped a ball back through the defences of Stewart in his next over to bowl him for 21. Zoysa struck again in his fifth over as Graeme Hick mistimed an on drive and was caught by Kumar Dharmasena at mid on having made just two. England were 35 for two.
Sri Lanka then turned to the off spin of Arnold and Dharmasena and Graham Thorpe and Trescothick found it difficult to increase the momentum of the innings with five, sometimes six, men fielding inside the inner circle. Nevertheless, the pair added 40 runs for the third wicket in 81 balls.
Arnold took Sri Lanka's third wicket in the 24th over when Trescothick tried to work an off spinner to leg and was bowled for 26.
Michael Vaughan, making his ODI debut, became the first of Muralitharan's wickets as he tried to sweep the off spinner, but dragged his back foot out of the crease and was smartly stumped by the recalled Kaluwitharan. Vaughan had scored nine runs and England were 92 for four.
Andrew Flintoff was also stumped as he tried to use his feet in Muralitharan's next over and Craig White was caught at slip first ball, as he was deceived by Muralitharan's arm ball. England had collapsed to 97 for six.
Ashley Giles added 16 runs with Graham Thorpe, who held the innings together with an undefeated 62 off 107 balls, but was then run out by a direct hit from Mahela Jayawardene. Caddick was brilliantly caught by a leaping Muralitharan for a duck, before the last two wickets yielded a potentially valuable 25 runs.
Jayasuriya then recalled his premier bowlers back into the attack. Chaminda Vaas had Darren Gough caught at the wicket and Muralitharan trapped Alan Mullally leg-before wicket.
Earlier in the day there had been disturbing crowd scenes when hot-tempered spectators clashed with the police.