Monday, Jul 08, 2002
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By G. Viswanath
Man of the match Kumara Sangakara pulls Irani to the fence at Old Trafford on Sunday. Photo N. Sridharan
For all purposes the Sri Lankans are out of the race for the championship title and the NatWest Trophy for which India and England have already booked their places.
They appeared to be uninterested in the contest and became victims of their own follies, failing to capitalise on a splendid partnership by `Man of the Match Kumara Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene that represented more than a semblance of a fight back.
The large number of men and women who occupied the assorted and colourful shelters in one of the traditional Test match ground might have taken the result of the match for granted after England bowled out Sri Lanka for 229. But a combination of factors caused by the England batsmen, Sri Lankas spin bowling and sprightly fielding suddenly made the match gripping.
As wickets began to tumble in the afternoon and twilight hours, men in a plush marquee, commoners in the veranda and open areas and the old fashioned clubhouse with a red brick frontage and black tiled and inclined roof, found the alarm bells ringing loud and clear for the home team, all because its top order batsmen failed to convert 20s into a big and match winning score.
The Sri Lankans made a bold bid for victory after left arm seamer, Nuwan Zoysa removed the openers Marcus Trescothick--driving and missing the line and Nick Knight, whose tally from five matches stands at a very poor 97 runs.
The Sri Lankans got their breaks that kept them in the hunt for their first win which the left arm spin of Sanath Jayasuriya achieved taking three wickets in nine overs. The prized wicket was that of Flintoff who literally saw the ball miss the outside edge of his bat and hit the off stump.
It was a perfect team effort with the fielders taking the honours. The seventh match of the tri-series with Alex Tudor being given the England cap for a one-day International. There has been a virtual clamour for the Surrey fast bowler to be let loose against the Sri Lankans or the Indians in the last ten days of the NatWest Trophy III tri-series, just as it was for the Glamorgan fast bowler Simon Jones on the eve of the Test series against Sri Lanka.
England's captain Nasser Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher refused to be brainwashed. Probably they did not feel Tudor was such hot possession to make the batsmen hop around and bob and weave in one day internationals.
Hussain always felt that Matthew Hoggard was a better bet. But the Yorkshire fast medium bowler did not deliver the goods in three matches on the trot.
England waited for another fast bowler with a Yorkshire pedigree to mend his dodgy knee and return to the ranks. Hussain put Hoggard and Gough together in one match; it did not work.
The Yorkshire fast medium bowler Hoggard had become some sort of a great England hope. Hussain had gone out of the way to tend him in India and in India.
The England captain's faith in Hoggard was not misplaced and has not diminished. He said Hoggard needs more exposure to put the ball in the right areas. But Hoggard finally had to go. Expert and flamboyant batsmen and even beginners were taking him apart and depositing him all over England's grounds.
The England captain was a reluctant man. He wanted Tudor to wait in the wings for a longer time. But on Sunday he had to write his name as one of the new ball bowlers apart from Darren Gough.
It was out James Kirtley's misfortune that Tudor got the break and his first one-day cap. The tall bowler with a high arm and whippy action bowled seven overs in his first spell and got the first taste of one-day cricket from the bats of Jayasuriya, Atapattu and Sangakkara.
It was the first match of the NatWest in which the dashing Sri Lankan batsmen could have thrown caution to the wind. They were free of pressure, but the swashbuckler in Jayasuriya appeared to have taken a beating. He decided to the play the line and length by the book and in a proper way, which went against his grain. He did not succeed. Finally he opened out his shoulders and swung the bat to send Tudor over mid off.
The crowd enjoying the sunlit atmosphere clapped and applauded the shot. Jayasuriya was dismissed the next ball in a fashion he might have been many times before. He went to turn Tudor on the on side and ended up offering a dolly to Hussain at cover.
Probably Jayasuriya, who relishes challenge, was enthused in the least. Sri Lanka chose the opportunity to drop players and make changes in the batting order. Romesh Kaluwitharana could not have been retained after another poor batting effort.
Sri Lanka opened with Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, who has met with a percentage of success in both forms of cricket only because he believes that there cannot be any fundamental change in technique.
He struck the ball straight down the pitch with the lead hand following the shot and came well inside the line and deflected the ball late and behind square to show two classic shots off Gough and Flintoff.
Atapattu was in good nick before Paul Collingwoods direct hit from short mid wicket broke the stumps.
The big Sunday crowd in holiday mood was not disappointed. Sangakkara who has been in and out of the team, took the place of Jayasuriya and exploded into action, hammering Tudor to the cover fence which was not far away from Hussain at cover. A similar shot hit a little later, off Ronnie Irani, scorched the ground.
Sangakkara hit pleasing shots and along with Jayawardene made possible salvage operations take the shape of a 89 run stand before Tudors superb fielding effort resulted in the run out of Jayawardene.After losing Jayasuriya in the third ball of twelfth over, Sri Lanka had made good progress to reach 162 by the 36th over and with Sangakkara in full command.
But with the introduction of Michael Vaughan and the return of Jeremy Snape after he had hurt the ring finger of his bowling hand, Sri Lankas declined to low of 229 in 49. 4 overs.
Arnold took a good catch of his own bowling to send back Arnold and Vaughan won an appeal for leg before against Sangakkara who had batted for close to two hours to make 70.
This was Vaughans first of the four, he took in a six over spell. Sri Lankas first four batsmen made 169 runs, the last six added just 60 to it.
Vaughan finished with a career best 4 for 22, a fine effort from a player who actually replaced a batsman, Graham Thorpe, after the latter's string of failures.
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