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Lanka checked, England grab initiative

cricket Updated: May 14, 2010 00:33 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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After sending India packing from the ICC World Twenty20, Sri Lanka played like they were the ones with an early flight to catch. England, who are the only major Test playing nation never to have won an ICC tournament in any format, continued their strong run, keeping Sri Lanka down to a modest 128 for 6 from 20 overs.

Boosted by the return of Kevin Pietersen, who had made a quick dash back home to be with his wife Jessica for the birth of their first child, England got off to a strong start despite losing the toss and being asked to bowl first.

Sanath Jayasuriya, for whom time is running out at an alarming rate, was the first to go, feeling for a Ryan Sidebottom delivery that moved away a touch after pitching outside the off stump. The time is not far away when Jayasuriya, who is now a minister in the Sri Lankan government, is requested to put down the willow and focus on his constituency.

For Tillakaratne Dilshan England had a specific plan, exploiting the explosive batsman's tendency to compulsively go after short-pitched balls. Tim Bresnan offered up the bait and Dilshan obligingly bit, attempting a front-foot hook, only managing to send the ball skywards.

As is so often the case, it was left to two old friends, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, to repair the early damage. But, unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Thursday was one of those days when both failed. Jayawardene nicked a rising delivery to the keeper and Sangakkara's attempt to claw back some momentum by attacking the spinner backfired. Graeme Swann lured Sangakkara out of his crease with a flighted delivery and beat the drive, leaving Pietersen to mop up the catch at long-off. At 47 for 4, Sri Lanka had ensured that England had a firm grip on the game.

The increasingly impressive Angelo Mathews buckled down to ensure that humiliation was staved off. Forced to work hard for runs and protect his wicket at the same time, Mathews cut out the big shots, focussing instead on working the ones and twos. The only time he opened his broad shoulders was against Swann, and the result was a neatly executed six over the on side. Run out in the last over of the innings for 58, Mathews pushed Sri Lanka's score to 128 for 6, giving the bowlers something to work with.