Dilshan comes up with an impressive knockfor the hostSwann, Sidebottom bowl well for England
DAMBULLA: A great modern batsman Ponting, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Kallis or Lara would have won the third one-day game of small scores on automatic pilot but no-one of that ilk made himself known in the Rangiri Stadium.
The match that will probably settle the series was stolen by England, but with persistence rather than panache. Both sides knew they could win and lost their way before England sneaked home by two wickets with seven balls to spare.
Top order fails
For the second match in four days Sri Lanka’s top order batsmen batted poorly so that after 31 overs of a rain-hit third one-day international in this, the driest part of the Island it was only 118 for eight.
Then England lost the plot once again and allowed the last three batsmen to take the score to 164. England’s first six went for 101 and again the tail came to the rescue.
When England’s attempt to score 164 in 48 overs began late Sri Lanka was favourite under the miserable Dambulla lights.
Alastair Cook was out for nought and the task of scoring 164 off 48 overs looked as hard as climbing the 2400 steps to the ancient hilltop palace at nearby Sigirya. Mustard was bowled round his legs at 23 by Farveez Maharoof; now the local papara band in mid crowd was really rocking.
At 44, Maharoof, the main destroyer in this series, had Kevin Pietersen leg before. So an assault on victory was left to captain Collingwood, even more so when Ian Bell was superbly caught at point.
The pitch was described to me ahead of the game in industrial, disapproving language by one with an expertise in such matters, so perhaps Sri Lanka got the rough end of the stick when it won the toss for what may be the most important match of the five. Storms are predicted for the games in Colombo.
Sri Lanka opened up badly. Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya were both out to Ryan Sidebottom whose future was questioned when he was too hurt to play in the 50-50s against India but who has been a major force here.
Chris Broad began with a wicket from a gross long hop and then stood open-mouthed when Kumar Sangakkara left the wicket without just cause. He may have thought he hit the ball, but those listening to the stump mike thought not. His supposed catcher, the wicket-keeper, Phil Mustard was clearly taken aback by Sangakkara’s departure but if such a dangerous enemy is ready to leave no opponent will ask him to stay.
It was the strangest moment of an innings in which only Tillekaratne Dilshan, who made 70, gave a convincing imitation of a batsman. Even stranger he has just been relegated to the A team and rumour had him dropped from this game. Extras were second-top scorer.
Graeme Swann with a series of impressive performances finished with four wickets.SCOREBOARD
Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga b Sidebottom 15, S. Jayasuriya c Swann b Sidebottom 11, K. Sangakkara c Mustard b Broad 9, M. Jayawardene c Collingwood b Broad 2, C. Silva c Mustard b Swann 11, T. Dilshan c Collingwood b Swann 70, J. Mubarak c & b Swann 6, F. Maharoof c & b Swann 7, C. Vaas (run out) 4, D. Fernando c Collingwood b Sidebottom 11, L. Malinga (not out) 0; Extras (b-1, lb-11, w-6) 18. Total (41.1 overs) 164.
Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-33, 3-37, 4-42, 5-85, 6-93, 7-106, 8-118, 9-164.
England bowling: Anderson 8-0-35-0, Sidebottom 8.1-1-19-3, Broad 8-0-26-2, Collingwood 7-0-38-0, Swann 10-2-34-4.
England: A. Cook c Sangakkara b Vaas 0, P. Mustard b Maharoof 14, I. Bell c Dilshan b Maharoof 16, K. Pietersen lbw b Maharoof 8, P. Collingwood lbw b Jayasuriya 31, O. Shah b Jayasuriya 19, R. Bopara lbw b Malinga 7, G. Swann b Fernando 25, S. Broad (not out) 20, R. Sidebottom (not out) 7; Extras (b-1, lb-8, w-6, nb-2) 17. Total (for eight wkts, 46.5 overs) 164.
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-23, 3-44, 4-47, 5-94, 6-101, 7-107, 8-147.
Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 6-1-20-1, Maharoof 10-0-34-3, Fernando 10-1-30-1, Malinga 7.5-1-39-1, Dilshan 3-0-8-0, Jayasuriya 10-1-24-2.