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Pallekele: Sri Lanka sent defending champions England packing from the T20 World Cup with a 19-run win. The victory ensured that they qualified for the semi-finals along with West Indies, who had beaten New Zealand earlier in the day.
Things went horribly wrong for England right at the start, as they set out to chase Sri Lanka’s total of 169/6. Luke Wright was the first go, cutting the ball straight into the hands of Dilshan at point. Lasith Malinga (5/31) would get his second wicket, just a delivery later, after Jonny Bairstow hit a slower ball tamely in the air to Nuwan Kulasekara at mid-off. To complete the ‘three jeers’ moment, Alex Hales was trapped leg-before-wicket. England 18/3. All in one over from the man with the most famous mop in international cricket.
Samit Patel and Eoin Morgan fought back with a 55-run partnership for the fourth wicket, before the latter tried the reverse sweep against Akila Dananjaya. There was no bat on the attempted shot, and the umpire had no trouble raising the dreaded finger. Ravi Bopara too came and went, playing back to a leg-break from Jeevan Mendis, only to find his stumps shattered.
While Patel completed his half-century, there was nothing he could do, as Sri Lanka continue to chip away at the rest of the English batting order. The stocky batsman went inside out, drove and cut with ease, singling out the slower bowlers for special attention. Unfortunately all the effort was to end up as part of a losing cause. When he was bowled by Malinga in the penultimate over, Sri Lanka had all but given England boarding passes, and the route map to the airport.
Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara replaced Mahela Jayawardene as skipper for the day, in a shrewd move aimed at averting a ban. He lost the toss and was asked to bat first by Stuart Broad. England were handed the perfect chance early on, when Jade Dernbach extracted an edge from Dilshan with a rising delivery, only to find Graeme Swann dropping the catch in the slips. The right-hander went on to rub salt on the bowler’s wounds, hitting a six in a subsequent over, before being trapped leg-before-wicket by Steven Finn.
Jayawardene and Sangakkara hung around for a 39-run partnership, with the latter employing the reverse sweep to good effect. But as they were cruising along, Eoin Morgan took a great catch diving forward, as Graeme Swann said goodbye to Jayawardene. One ball later, Sangakkara walked back, albeit with a disgusted expression, after being given out caught behind. Two wickets for Swann, Sri Lanka 74/3.
The routine was repeated with Jeevan Mendis (18) and Angelo Mathews (28). Having put together 52-run stand, which contained some lusty blows to the fence, Stuart Broad removed them both, off the third and fourth deliveries off the 16th over. Sri Lanka however bat deep, and Thisara Perera (25*) and Lahiru Thirimanne (13) ensured that they put together a respectable total of 169/6.