Cook’s hundred in vain as Sri Lanka win with 10 balls to spare
Score: Sri Lanka 249-4 in 48.2 overs (Chandimal 105*, Jayawardene 79) beat England 246-7 in 50 overs (Cook 119) by 6 wickets. Sri Lanka lead 2-1 in five-match series Full scorecard
England lost their fifth successive Lord’s one-day international and their 13th in the last 20 here since 2000.
They must now win both remaining matches to rescue a series which they started so well last Wednesday at The Oval. And unless the ball swings at Trent Bridge it is hard to see them doing that. In two matches in warm, sunny conditions they have been outplayed.
Alastair Cook’s decision to bat first was entirely appropriate given the conditions but history was against him: of the 16 occasions that a captain has chosen to bat first in a Lord’s one-dayer, he has emerged victorious only five times.
England simply did not make enough runs on an excellent pitch. Their bowlers were aggressive – arguably even transgressive at times – but Sri Lanka were never seriously stretched.
Mahela Jayawardene made batting look outrageously easy again, passing fifty for the fourth time in eight innings as a one-day opener.
His century partnership with Dinesh Chandimal came at a run a ball and the latter showed great character in not only the runs he scored but the way he battled through the attempted brutalising by Stuart Broad.
“He’s just getting angrier and angrier,” said Nasser Hussain of Broad on Sky. He had reason to be. He was fined 50% of his match fee for making “unacceptable and offensive” remarks to umpire Billy Bowden during the last one-dayer at Headingley on Friday.
Hussain was actually referring to the fact Broad has taken only eight international wickets in seven matches in all formats for England since returning from his winter injuries.
His relentless short-ball enforcer tactics troubled Chandimal but the 21-year-old played Broad with guts and skill, managing to control the rising ball. A more attacking field setting might have made things more interesting but these are the knife-edge decisions that have to be made in 50-over cricket. It’s hard enough at the best of times but made tougher with a soft total on the board.
There was a seething under-current of malevolence during Sri Lanka’s run-chase. Umpire Nigel Llong spoke to Cook at one point either about the use of substitutes or possibly the Sri Lankan batsmen’s apparent disquiet at the way the England bowlers were blocking their passage when running between the wickets.
The antipathy reached simmering point as Sri Lanka closed in on their total. Needing nine to win, Chandimal was on 94 and started to turn down singles. The Sri Lankan dressing room was visibly bemused and umpire Llong had to get involved again when he sent back the inevitable glove-running 12th man. When the same man returned with a new bat for Angelo Mathews, Kevin Pietersen had waded in.
The game was turning into a farce when Chandimal reached his century, his second of a brief but burgeoning one-day career, with a six over long-on off Tim Bresnan, a shot that tied the scores.
Chandimal walked towards the pavilion, arms aloft in celebration while England’s players stood hands on hips in full Queen Victoria mode (ie: not amused) waiting for the next ball. Their noses had been rubbed in it.
Cook’s century exhibited mental strength but little else. It was scratchy, lacked fluency and he was dropped twice. He celebrated modestly and left the field almost with his head bowed when he was out. But he battled through, as he does, and where England would have been without his innings does not bear thinking about.
The worrying thing, though. was the nervy mindset of the other top-order batsmen. It was as if they knew they had to score big and put themselves under too much pressure.
They also had to contend with Lasith Malinga and for all Jimmy Anderson’s skill, Tim Bresnan’s nous and Jade Dernbach’s box of tricks, none of them are in Malinga’s class.
Graeme Swann was impressive as ever but was taken out of attack to let the seamers reverse-swing it and when he returned it was too late.
Shot of the day: Close-run thing between Chandimal’s brutal cover-drive in the 10th over off Bresnan that had Jonathan Trott flinching at short extra cover and his six over mid-wicket off Anderson that was caught by a punter in a panama.
Ball of the day: For skill: Bresnan’s to get Tillakaratne Dilshan which nipped down the slope to hit the top of off stump. For wow factor: Broad’s 91mph bouncer that hit the handle of Chandimal’s bat.
Commentary banter of the day: Former Sri Lankan opener Russel Arnold was mischievously asking David Lloyd why all the tennis talk from the previous talk had tied down. Bumble’s response: “That’s because I don’t think we’ve got any Serbians in the commentary box.”
Irony of the day: David Gower: “You can be sure that if England do lose this game there will still be positives to take. We’ll hear all about them at the presentation.”
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John