Maharoof sends sorry England crashing
Sri Lanka 269 for 7 (Jayawardene 66) beat England 150 (Cook 46, Maharoof 4-31) by 119 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sri Lanka took the opening honours of the one-day series against England with an overwhelming 119-run victory at Dambulla. Farveez Maharoof took advantage of some extra zip under the floodlights to floor England's chase with three key wickets and the innings fell apart for 150. Sri Lanka controlled the match from the outset with Mahela Jayawardene's 66 the leading contribution in their total of 269 - always worth more on a sluggish surface and England chasing in the evening.
The pursuit began in promising style with Phil Mustard producing the type of aggressive start that made his name at Durham. He squeezed a Lasith Malinga yorker through midwicket with excellent timing and launched Chaminda Vaas over long-off for an impressive six. But his fun couldn't last and he skewed Maharoof's third ball to Malinga at mid-off. From then on it was all one-day traffic with England's one-day winter not showing any signs of improving after their poor display at the World Twenty20.
With the ball beginning to move around off the seam Ian Bell - despite his recent prolific form - couldn't do much about the pearler which nipped away and took his outside edge. Maharoof's evening continued to bring riches and he removed Kevin Pietersen with a thin inside edge. He could have had a fourth, but Paul Collingwood's stinging return drive came with too much force and Maharoof could only palm it away.
However, the next breakthrough wasn't far away and it went to the impressive Dilhara Fernando, who continued his strong form from the World Twenty20. He showed all his variation of slower balls, bouncers and yorkers and undid Collingwood with a slower delivery which he edged to Jayawardene at slip.
All the while Alastair Cook was trying to hold the innings together. He threaded the off side with a couple of fine drives, but was left needing to rebuild the innings and try and give England a late-innings platform. Owais Shah, though, couldn't stay with him for long as his unconvincing 7 ended when he limply drove a slower ball to short cover. Cook then became Maharoof's fourth victim when he tried to run a ball to third man and Kumar Sangakkara took a sharp low catch. Ravi Bopara and Graeme Swann offered brief resistance, but Swann's reverse sweep to short fine-leg ended any hopes of a late revival.
It was clear from the first over that England's quick bowlers wouldn't find much joy from the surface. Sanath Jayasuriya was beginning to tick - launching James Anderson over long-on for six - but picked out deep square-leg two balls after being given a life by Anderson at mid-on. Tharanga struggled to force the pace as England adjusted well before lofting a pull to deep square-leg.
Without threatening to take a stream of wickets, England continued to keep a lid on the scoring rate. Swann claimed his first wicket nearly eight years after his debut when he spun one past the edge of Sangakkara as he came down the pitch, Mustard also completing his first dismissal although after a much shorter wait than Swann. Jayawardene offered a tough return chance to Collingwood, on 43, which left the England captain wincing after banging his right shoulder but after reaching his half century picked out deep cover to hand Collingwood a deserved wicket.
England chipped away in the closing overs, although there was always the feeling that Sri Lanka were content with their position. Maharoof ensured the innings ended with a flurry of boundaries, but his major impact on proceedings was still to come and England had no way back.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo