Dernbach stars in tense finale
Score: England 268-9 (Trott 72, Morgan 57; Randiv 5-42) beat Sri Lanka 252 (Mathews 68, Chandimal 54; Bresnan 3-49) by 16 runs Full scorecard
England win series 3-2
England began Alastair Cook’s captaincy era in spectacular style as a blaze of late wickets – four in five balls sealing victory – saw them turn around the NatWest Series.
Trailing 2-1 with two matches to play, Cook’s team displayed their appetite for a fight with a 10-wicket victory in midweek and held their nerve as Sri Lanka took the chase of 269 to the wire on the newly-flipped Old Trafford pitch.
The game was tantalisingly in the balance when Nuwan Kulasekara swung James Anderson to deep midwicket with 24 required. Chaos ensued next ball, resulting in Suraj Randiv’s run-out, and even Lasith Malinga’s astonishing straight six to conclude that 48th over failed to alter the momentum.
Jade Dernbach, preferred to Stuart Broad for his slower ball variations on a sluggish pitch, seized the moment: executing one perfectly to outfox dangerman Angelo Mathews and following up by yorking Malinga.
Smiles littered Old Trafford and there was even room for a wry one on the face of Michael Atherton as he presented Cook with the man-of-the-series award a quarter of an hour later. A fortnight ago he labelled Cook a donkey and a plodder in questioning his credentials as one-day leader.
Cook has made an ass of such opinion – in the short-term at least – but will know that this is only the first step in transforming a team that was woefully one-paced at the World Cup.
England were ousted from that tournament by a ruthless Sri Lankan side in Colombo and on a pitch not dissimilar in character displayed much greater nous. Cook, it is said, is a quick learner, and here was evidence to support the claim.
Ponderous in March, England were powered out of the blocks in this decider, running with the momentum developed by captain Cook and Craig Kieswetter in the landslide victory under the Trent Bridge lights on Wednesday night.
They took 75 runs from the 10 overs of mandatory powerplay – the highest of the series – to make best use of pace on the ball. But, as is the trend on the subcontinent, scoring got harder as it got softer.
So much so that the final 10 overs reaped only 40, and did not contain a single boundary. In fact, Cook and Kieswetter found or cleared the rope nine times in the first nine overs, while only five more followed in the final 41 from the bats of others.
England’s Achilles heel in ODIs has been exploitation of the batting powerplay and it was perhaps inevitable therefore that the innings began heading south from the moment that Cook took the bold decision to take it at the start of the 13th over. England were 83 without loss at the time; five overs later they were 97 for three.
Nevertheless, even allowing for that period of drastic disruption, such was the initial impetus that Eoin Morgan and Jonathan Trott were able to resuscitate things without risk.
Only when their 118-run stand was terminated, in fact, was the vibrancy of the innings snuffed out by spin: Suraj Randiv rewarded for his adventure on the infant international surface.
The pitches here have been bedfellows for spinners since the turning of the square through 90 degrees last winter, and the decision to omit Broad was clinical.
“It’s a tactical change. We felt two spinners was the way to go. Broady is a world-class bowler and he’ll be back,” explained Cook, of the decision to recall all-rounder Samit Patel.
Patel did his job with the ball and played a significant part in the result as Jeevan Mendis paid the ultimate price for hauling his first ball back into the attack, the first of the 47th over, to deep midwicket.
Shot of the day: Dinesh Chandimal’s towering straight blow for six from only the third ball sent down by Graeme Swann.
Delivery of the day: Dhammika Prasad produced one of extra bounce to feather Kevin Pietersen’s edge and double his haul in his first ODI in two years.
Catch of the day: On another day in other circumstances it would have been classed a dolly but Kevin Pietersen had to hold his nerve, looking into the sun, when Jeevan Mendis skied to deep midwicket in the 47th over.
Spell of the day: Graeme Swann’s 3-2-3-0, immediately after being struck for six by Chandimal, that pushed the required run rate above six an over.
Tweet of the day: Stuart Broad – “Gutted not to be playing but taking full advantage of being told to get my feet up!!”
Cook: “One of the most pleasing aspects of this is that we were 2-1 down and everyone was writing us off. That was the first time we have had a tight scenario in my eight games as one-day captain and we handled that well as a side.
“[Jade] has bowled really well at the death and one of the main reasons he has been brought into the side is because of the skills he has. You saw at the end the slower ball followed by the yorker. He has bowled a lot in pressure situations and powerplays.
“We picked Jade ahead of Broady. It is obviously a tough pill for him to swallow but his record in one-day cricket is outstanding and just because he hasn’t taken the wickets he would have liked it doesn’t mean he won’t be back.”