Sri Lanka fight back for one-wicket win
Sri Lanka Under-19s 231 for 9 (Samarawickrama 82, Sumanasiri 43) beat England Under-19s 230 for 9 (Tattersall 95, Anuk 3-49) by one wicket
In a match that ebbed and flowed, Sri Lanka Under-19s last-wicket pair edged past England Under-19s in the most thrilling match of the tournament so far. With all men in the ring, Anuk Fernando, Sri Lanka's No.10, dabbed the ball towards point and risked the single even with eight balls remaining. They scampered through and Sri Lanka had all but booked their place in the quarter-finals, with wins from both their games.
At 160 for 7 in the 35th over chasing 231, England looked the favourites but they weren't prepared for Sri Lanka's lower-order fight. Thilaksha Sumanasiri and AK Tyronne, the eighth-wicket pair, batted positively, exploiting an attacking field to even it up with a 43-run stand. The required rate was never a concern for Sri Lanka, and it was more a matter of keeping wickets in hand. Sumanasiri's dismissal, caught off a top edge, gave England an opening. Tyronne's scoop to cover tilted the scales towards England, but Anuk held his nerve, defended the odd delivery and saw his side through.
Both teams displayed character in an absorbing contest. Jonathan Tattersall grafted his way to 95 to get England to a total they could defend while the Sri Lanka opener Sadeera Samarawickrama kept his side in the hunt with a more aggressive 82.
The batsmen not only had to negotiate a slow surface but also an unusually large outfield. Curiously, the ropes were not brought forward, which meant that it was always going to be difficult scoring boundaries on one side of the wicket. Muscling the ball over the ropes would have been challenging even for more mature batsmen. The junior batsmen today had to work within those limitations and naturally, had to cover a lot of ground between the wickets. The England innings featured just ten fours, three sixes and a massive 178 dot balls.
The England top order failed after being asked to bat, losing their first four wickets for 43 within 11 overs. Sri Lanka's left-arm pace duo of Anuk and Binura Fernando hurried them on for pace and movement when the conditions suited them best. The left-arm spinner Harsha Rajapaksa claimed two wickets in his second over, beating Harry Finch with one that went through with the arm and bowling Ed Barnard off an inside edge.
England were in a similar position to India's yesterday, when a quick burst of wickets put extra pressure on the middle order. While India's recovery hinged on a century stand for the fifth wicket, England's was based on three half-century stands, with Tattersall the pivot. Will Rhodes added 71 with him for the fifth wicket, hitting two boundaries in his 38 before he was trapped lbw to Binura's inswing.
Tattersall kept pushing the singles and eventually reached his fifty, off 89 balls. His first boundary came off his 55th ball, when he lofted the offspinner AK Tyronne over long-on. He swept the same bowler down to deep square leg to bring up the fifty stand with Joe Clarke.
The last ten overs was the most productive for England as 78 came off it, with 55 of those coming off the last five alone. However, there were only three fours and two sixes in that period, indicative of the amount of running they had to do. Tattersall moved close to the 90s with a six off Binura over long-on in the 49th over, but a deserving century eluded him. He fell five short, caught brilliantly by Kusal Mendis running forward from long-on on the penultimate ball of the innings. He walked back satisfied, having helped England to a competitive 230.
The Sri Lanka openers found the boundaries easier to come by. Samarawickrama played some delightful drives through the covers to set his side racing to 46 after seven overs. Spin came to England's rescue as Rob Sayer trapped both Hashan Dumindu and Kusal Mendis lbw off successive balls. Priyamal Perera then edged to the keeper, leaving Sri Lanka in trouble at 87 for 4.
Binura made 19 before he was run out thanks to a sharp underarm throw by Tattersall. England continued to attack but it produced mixed results. It helped Samarawickrama and Sumanasiri clear the infield but also created opportunities for wickets. Samarawickrama was done in by the extra bounce and top-edged to cover. The pressure got to England when Sumanasiri, who looked dangerous after Samarawickrama's fall, was dropped by Dominic Sibley at deep square leg. He went on to score 43 off 42 balls.
Sumanasiri too succumbed to a top edge, off the captain Rhodes. Rhodes gambled by keeping many men in the ring, but the bowling didn't help his cause. Full tosses were driven and flicked and with every boundary, Sri Lanka ensured that they were never out of it.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo