A few edges flying past the fielders, catches falling short, chances being missed; these are the crucial factors that separate the fine line between victory and defeat. Unfortunately England ended up on the wrong side of this line the other day and were defeated comprehensively by Sri Lanka for the second straight game. Despite two of their batsmen putting respectable scores and their main bowler bowling splendidly, England’s fatuous approach to ODI batting cost them the match.
There are plenty of areas of improvement that England will be focusing on in the next ODI. It takes place in Trent Bridge, Nottingham- the home ground of Stuart Broad, which may just inspire him to perform better. Talking of inspiration, Sri Lanka will never run short of it whether it comes from a gutsy 21-year old keeper or a 34-year old former captain. Despite appearing a much better team on paper, England’s repeated failures keep reminding everyone of the proverb - The roaring lion kills no game. For the sake of the series, let us hope that England can spring the tide in the 4th ODI and come up with a team effort to win the match.
With the pitch being a batting paradise at Lord’s, Cook’s innings was a tad slothful whereas Pietersen seemed too eager to expedite the matter. Others couldn’t manage to stay on long enough and hence England fell 40 short of what would have been a competitive total. While Stuart Broad’s jagged performances are causing a headache for the management, it is Jonathan’s Trott’s repeated let-downs, which might be a bigger worry. Craig Kieswetter continues to remain an elusive opener and has scored just one fifty in his last five outings. Eoin Morgan who has blended perfectly in the deputy’s role in both T20s and ODIs can’t do the batting for whole team, and unless players like Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen can step up, England will have a tough road ahead. Cook’s innings was indicative of his maturity and a few more at a better strike rate will shut the critics up, if not win matches.
To be fair to the English bowlers, they had bowled well in the 3rd ODI. Stuart Broad was especially impressive in the early going. He ran in hard and kept hitting the turf with determination and purpose, but somehow could not get a breakthrough. The same cannot be said of Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan as both of them turned out to be pretty expensive despite picking up a wicket each. Swann once again bowled like a hungry wolf but because his pack couldn’t support him, he couldn’t turn the match in England’s favour. With spinners including Jeevan Mendis and Suraj Randiv being the most successful in the last two ODIs, England might be inclined to replace Dernbach with Samit Patel in the 4th ODI.
While individuals continue to win matches for Sri Lanka, the margin with which they are winning is the most impressive. If batsmen can continue to step up like Chandimal did, then Sri Lankan team can certainly prove that they have a noteworthy amount of talent amongst the newer crop. However, satisfaction can never be adequate and Vice-captain Thilina Kadamby continues to struggle even on placid pitches, reminding everyone of his inconsistency since his debut in 2004. Even Dilshan’s recovery from the injury and his return to the team hasn’t been fulfilling from a personal stand point and his bat has misfired on two occasions. Kumar Sangakkara must be ruing his chances of failing to get a good knock under his belt in the last match, but can be expected to come to the party very soon.
The Sri Lankan bowlers as a whole have played a bigger role in the team winning matches than the batsmen. Malinga, Randiv, Suranga Lakmal and Jeevan Mendis have bowled well in tandem and two or three of them always ends up picking up a wicket or two while maintaining a nagging economy rate. Unfortunately, Nuwan Kulasekara again failed to get a breakthrough despite bowling decently, but judging by the way the English batsmen are playing, wickets are sure to be around the corner, it’s just a matter of perseverance and discipline with the ball.
England - C Kiewesetter, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, K Pieterson, I Bell, E Morgan, S Patel, Tim Bresnan, G Swann, S Broad, J Anderson.
Sri Lanka - T Dilshan, M Jayawardene, K Sangakkara, T Kadamby, A Matthews, J Mendis, D Chandimal, N Kulasekara, L Malinga, S Randiv, S Lakmal.
3 July 2011 lost to Sri Lanka by 6 wickets
1 July 2011 lost to Sri Lanka by 61 runs
28 June 2011 defeated Sri Lanka by 110 runs (D/L method)
26 March 2011 lost to Sri Lanka by 10 wickets
17 March 2011 defeated West Indies by 18 runs
Sri Lanka (WWLLW)
3 July 2011 defeated England by 6 wickets
1 July 2011 defeated England by 61 runs
28 June 2011 lost to England by 110 runs (D/L method)
2nd April 2011 lost to India by 6 wickets
29 March 2011 defeated New Zealand by 5 wickets
Watch out for
Stuart Broad - It would be wonderful if Broad could regain his form just like his mane. But jokes aside, this will be his last chance to deliver before the marauding Indians arrive and Trent Bridge being his hometown, he will certainly receive a rousing welcome. He is steadfast, dedicated and bowls with a lion heart as he showed in the last match and wickets should start pouring in very soon.
Mahela Jayawardene - What a summer Jayawardene is having. First he hits a hundred in the 2011 World Cup final, an accolade which is a hallmark of the very best. Then, just when his team was in dire straits, he hits 144 followed by an equally convincing 79 in the last match. He is like a thorn stuck in the feet of the English Lions and unless they get rid of him, he will continue to sting.
Prediction: Choosing a laggard horse to win a race is like putting illusory hopes on a miracle, but with a set strategy and an honest effort, anything can be achieved. Hence, we hope that with their backs to the wall, England can come out all guns blazing. On current form, choosing England is just like choosing the lazy horse, but if anyone has the mental fortitude and the squad to do it, it is the English and we can expect players like Pietersen, Broad, Swann and Morgan to lead from the front.