Lanka crush England to set up semis date with NZ

Colombo: Openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga hit superb centuries as Sri Lanka humiliated England by 10 wickets in a thoroughly one-sided quarter-final encounter of the World Cup, here on Saturday.

Chasing a target of 230, Dilshan (108 not out, 115 balls, 10×4, 2×6) and Tharanga (102 not out, 122 balls, 12×4, 1×6) played with consumate ease as they reached the target in only 37.3 overs to set up a semi-final date with New Zealand, next Tuesday.

The target was never going to be difficult on a Premadasa track for a team that bats deep but one fancied England bowlers to put up a fight. Unlike some of their resilient performances at the group league stages, the English bowlers couldn“t recreate the magic as both Dilshan and Tharanga never looked like getting into any kind of trouble.

The only time the duo looked troubled was after the match got over when both were in acute pain battling cramps in humid conditions.

Without taking any undue risks, both hit the boundaries with minimum fuss. Their preference for the off-side field was understandable as they repeatedly peppered the region with some thumping drives.

The ploy of opening the bowling with Graeme Swann also didn“t work out as both Tharanga and Dilshan used their feet to good effect whenever the offie tossed it up. If the ball turned, they waited that extra bit to play their shot.

Tharanga made his intentions clear when he stepped out in the very second over bowled by Swann to hit him over long for a six. When the spinner came for his second spell, Dilshan who was well and truly settled swept him over mid-wicket for another six.

Ditto for second spinner James Tredwell as Lanka reached their 50 in nine overs and subsequently the 100 in 19 overs.

Chris Tremlett looked incisive in his first couple of overs but Strauss certainly lacked someone who would produce telling blows to bring England back in the match. The bowlers were happy bowling length balls which were punished with utter disdain.

Having already set a World Cup record for an opening stand of 282 runs against Zimbabwe, Dilshan-Tharanga duo showed that they are slowly turning into one of the best opening pairs in the limited overs version as they brought up their second double century partnership.

Dilshan completed his second century in the World Cup and 10th in the ODIs when he rocked back to cut Swann past point for a boundary. The milestone was achieved in 107 balls.

Tharanga who battled cramps and had to take runner completed his ton when he hit a cover drive off Tremlett to finish the proceedings.

Credit should be given to Dilshan as he blocked a couple of hittable deliveries to let his partner reach his individual milestone.

Earlier, Jonathan Trott scored a fighting 86 as England recoverd from a slow start to post a modest 229 for six in 50 overs.

Electing to bat, Trott held the English innings together after they suffered two early blows.

Trott has been the man-in-form for England for quite some time and yet again he proved his worth by sharing two crucial stands with Ravi Bopara (31) and Eoin Morgan (50) for the third and fourth wickets respectively.

The two partnerships — 64 with Bopara and 91 with Morgan — guided England to the respectable total after they lost both the openers — captain Andrew Strauss (5) and Ian Bell (25) — with the scoreboard reading 31 for two.

Wicket-keeper Matt Prior (22 not out off 19) played a good hand in the dying stages of the innings to take England past the 220-mark.

Sri Lanka also helped England`s cause by dropping Morgan thrice — once off Ajantha Mendis and twice off Mutiah Muralitharan — during his 55-ball stay.

The sloppy fielding negated the good work done by the bowlers, specially the spinners, as it gave momentum to the England innings.

England batsmen found boundaries difficult to hit in the tricky R Premadasa pitch and could only 12 fours in their entire innings.

Trott had to work hard for his runs and it was evident from the fact that he hit just two boundaries in his 115-ball knock.

England were never comfortable facing the spin attack as their top-order struggled to adjust to the pace of the wicket, which forced Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara to quicly remove pacer Lasith Malinga from the attack and employ all his slow bowlers to the work.

Part-timer Tillakratane Dilshan, who opened the attack along with Malinga, troubled Strauss from the onset and eventually ended his misery by bowling him out.

Angelo Mathews was hit for two boundaries by Bell in his opening two overs but the paceman got the better of the English batsman in his third over, caught at short mid-wicket by Thilan Samaraweera.

Sangakkara then introduced Rangana Herath from one end and Mendis from the other as England crawled to 46 for two in 15 overs.

Even though Trott and Bopara failed to score runs quickly, they at least managed to stay at the crease as the next five over yielded just 19 runs.

The spin trio stifled both Trott and Bopara but the English duo was succesful in staying united for the next 17 overs and added vital 64 runs for the third wicket.

The boundaries were far and few and both Trott and bopara had to toil hard for their runs, which came thourgh ones and twos.

Muralitharan, who surprisingly did not pose much problem early on, broke the stand by trapping Bopara (31).

Then came Morgan who enjoyed all his luck to score his 11th ODI half-century. He was dropped thrice — by Thilan Samraweera off Mendis when he was on 16, by Mathews on 33 and by Herath on 34 off Muralitharan`s over.

In between Morgan survived a leg before appeal off Malinga as Simon Taufel decided in favour of the batsman.

Morgan finally ran out of luck when he was caught by Mathews off Malinga during the final power-play but by then he had done a world of good for his side by raising 91 runs for the fourth wicket with Trott.

Graeme Swann (0) was scalped by Mendis in the very next ball and Trott was out while attempting a big shot off Muralitharan in the penultimate over of the innings.