Essex 174 for 4 (Pettini 69, ten Doeschate 53*) beat Sri Lankans 172 (P Jayawardene 46, Ahmed 4-32) by six wickets
Essex put a spanner in the works of Sri Lanka's preparations for the Natwest Series as they inflicted a six-wicket defeat at Chelmsford. The top-order problems which hit Sri Lanka in the Test series were again on full view as they stumbled to 172. Essex were guided home by half-centuries from Mark Pettini and Ryan ten Doeschate.
Put into bat by Darren Gough, who was leading Essex, Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya made a deceptively confident start, adding 48 for the first wicket. However, when Gough made the first breakthrough by dislodging Tharanga, the batting again folded like a pack of cards.
It was the unheralded, and relatively unknown, talent of Jahid Ahmed who did most of the damage on his one-day debut for Essex. He removed Jayasuriya and Russel Arnold before returning to put a dampener on Prasanna Jayawardene's fighting 46, which at least gave the score some respectability from 77 for 6. Ravinder Bopara continued his impressive form with three wickets, including Tillakaratne Dilshan and Farveez Maharoof.
Pettini set off rapidly in the chase, punching some powerful boundaries in a brisk half-century. At 84 for 3, Sri Lanka still had a sniff of pulling themselves back into the match, but without their spearheads of Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas the attack lacked bite. ten Doeschate took over the charge when Pettini fell to Maharoof and with James Foster added 52 to carry Essex home.
Sri Lanka continue their build-up against Somerset, at Taunton, on Sunday ahead of the Twenty20 international against England at The Rose Bowl on Thursday. The Natwest Series starts at Lord's on June 17.