Having come from behind to register a sensational tie, England went into the 2nd ODI against the Sri Lankans at Birmingham in a better frame of mind. And, they made sure they extended the advantage even further with a superb all-round effort on Friday. When a team wins a game by ten wickets, it is a more than clear indication that they have been completely dominant in the game. And, same was the case with England’s triumph over their Asian opponents. They were ahead in the game throughout, be it while or batting. Even in the field, they outshone the Lankans.
Poor batting was undoubtedly the chief cause of Sri Lanka’s defeat in the match. Taking first strike on a beauty of a surface, they should have crossed 300. But, that wasn’t to be the case. They only just managed to get past 250, and that too thanks to a lower order resistance. The top and middle order batting was hugely disappointing. The openers Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka got into the 20 and 30s before getting out. Kusal Mendis’ dismissal for a duck was also a big setback, as Sri Lanka could not get any momentum in the power play overs.
Fitness woes continued to haunt the visitors in the match. Skipper Angelo Mathews was declared fit in the run up to the match. But, out in the middle, he was nowhere near his best, and definitely seemed to be struggling. He still managed 44 at a decent strike rate, but that did not do much to alleviate Lanka’s woes. To make matters worse, Dinesh Chandimal also suffered what seemed like a hamstring injury. He required treatment out in the middle, but although he hung on, his 52 from 86 balls further killed the momentum of Sri Lanka’s bowling.
If at all, the Lankans managed to cross 250, it was thanks to the efforts of Upul Tharanga. The experienced left-hander was under pressure, and responded with a calm half-century. The knock will surely give some of his lost confidence back, and also, to an extent, backed Lanka’s theory of having him bat lower down the order. Tharanga got good support from Surav Randiv, who displayed good batting skills, and featured in an undefeated eighth wicket half-century stand. Even though Lanka knew they did not have enough on the board, they at least took some momentum into the halfway stage.
Any hopes Sri Lanka had of competing were however dashed by a splendid opening stand by Jason Roy and Alex Hales. They were just too good for the Lankans, who were missing both their experienced men, Mathews and Chandimal, in the field. With the pitch offering little help, the openers went ballistic and raced to their respective hundreds with ease. None of the Sri Lankan bowlers could make any kind of impact on the England openers. While Hales was the more aggressive of the two, Roy ended up as the man of the match, since he was brilliant in the field, effecting two run-outs as well.
--By A Cricket Analyst