Sri Lanka brush England aside with ease
SRI Lanka ended England’s gruelling five-month global odyssey with a comprehensive 10-wicket triumph on Saturday to set up a World Cup semifinal showdown against New Zealand.
Openers Tillakaratne Dilshan, with 108 not out, and Upul Tharanga, who hit an unbeaten 102, enjoyed their second 200-plus partnership of the tournament, wrapping up victory in Colombo with more than 10 overs to spare.
The win also allowed Muttiah Muralidaran, the most successful bowler in history, to extend his 19-year career by at least three more days with Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, to face the Kiwis in Colombo tomorrow.
England, who have been on the road virtually non-stop since embarking on their successful Ashes tour in October, made a dogged 6-229 in their 50 overs.
Jonathan Trott ( 86) and Eoin Morgan ( 50), who was dropped three times, provided much-needed backbone on a slow, flat R. Premadasa Stadium pitch.
Trott fell in the 49th over, caught off Muralidaran who finished with 2-54, after a 115-ball innings which featured just two boundaries.
‘‘ We lost the toss but we started well with the ball,’’ Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said.
‘‘ The guys fought hard, especially fielding first in the heat and humidity and they kept up the pressure.’’
England captain Andrew Strauss, whose side had endured a rollercoaster tournament, admitted they had fallen short.
‘‘ They were able to bowl a lot of dot balls at us to build pressure and we weren’t able to take advantage of the platform that we had,’’ Strauss said.
‘‘ But we have to be honest, we haven’t been good enough during the tournament. This was a step too far.’’
Meanwhile, crack Indian commandos helped ramp up security in Mohali for Wednesday’s highlycharged semi-final between India and Pakistan, the first clash of the two teams on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Around 2000 police will patrol the 30,000-capacity Punjab Cricket Association Stadium with a further 1000 having already descended on the l u x u r y H o t e l T a j i n n e a r b y Chandigarh where both teams are staying.
Pakistan star Mohammad Hafeez insisted he had no qualms about the security situation.
‘‘ We have no fear or a feeling of any shortcomings when it comes to security,’’ he said.
‘‘ That’s not our job; our job is to play cricket. To provide security is the responsibility of the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India. We are very happy and we are enjoying ourselves very much.’’
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has predicted that his team will quickly overcome their latest World Cup fright night, a 49-run loss to New Zeal a nd i n Dhaka i n Fri d a y ’ s quarter-final.
The Black Caps, restricted to 8-221 after taking first strike, bundled out South Africa for 172 after they were sailing merrily at 2-108 by the 24th over.
South Africa have now lost in three semi-finals, two quarter-finals and once in the first round. think is right for me and the team going forward.
‘‘ I’ve still got a lot to offer the team as a player and leader. With the changing face of the team, there are a lot of young faces around the team, and when I first came into the team, I was lucky to have had a lot of experienced guys around for me to learn what international cricket was about.
‘‘ I want to make sure ( the young players) . . . we have in the team have experienced guys around to learn from as well.
‘‘ It’s never been about how many runs I’ve scored or hundreds I’ve made – if I feel I can contribute with the bat, help the team win games of cricket and help young guys along the way, then I think I should still be playing.’’