S. Dinakar

Restricts Sri Lanka to 128 and chases down the target with ease

Gros Islet (St. Lucia): England made all the right moves here on Thursday to outplay Sri Lanka by seven wickets and progress to the final of the ICC World Twenty20. The victory was set up by the balanced and varied English attack that restricted Sri Lanka to 128 for six.

Then, after the openers provided a blazing start to the pursuit, the gifted Kevin Pietersen waded into the Sri Lankan attack for a blistering unbeaten 26-ball 42. England was home with four overs to spare.

The Sri Lankan spinners were on from both ends when England began its chase. Kumar Sangakkara's strategy was clear.

Craig Kieswetter seized the initiative. He danced down to off-spinner Suraj Randiv for successive off-side boundaries even as he disrupted the bowler's length.

When Angelo Mathews was introduced, he sashayed down the track to strike the paceman straight for the maximum.

Kieswetter then took on Ajantha Mendis, jumping down the track and smashing the bowler over his head.

At the other end, the left-handed Michael Lumb slog-swept Randiv. England was roaring at 47 for no loss after the six Power Play overs.

Soon, Sanath Jayasuriya was struck into the stands beyond long-off by Kieswetter after he had used his feet to convert the delivery into a half-volley. Lumb — he earlier survived a run-out chance when bowler Mendis spilled a throw — got into the act with a tremendous cover-driven six off Jayasuriya's left-arm spin on-the-walk.

Lasith Malinga ended Kieswetter's (39 off 29) attacking innings with a scorching yorker but England was on course.

Lumb (33 off 26) continued to pound the bowling before being bowled, moving across to clip paceman Thissara Perera.

Battling innings

It was only a battling 45-ball 58 from all-rounder Angelo Mathews that took the Sri Lankans past the 125-run mark.

He strung together a crucial 46-run fifth-wicket partnership with Chamara Kapugedera. Mathews dismissed off-spinner Graeme Swann over mid-wicket for a six and punched paceman Stuart Broad past the point fence.

Earlier, there was a cloud cover for the English pacemen to exploit after Sri Lanka elected to bat.

Sanath Jayasuriya held his place in the eleven but departed soon. A fuller length ball from left-arm paceman Ryan Sidebottom drew the left-handed Jayasuriya into a tentative push and the away movement found the edge.

It had drizzled here in the morning and, consequently, the pitch provided spongy bounce to the pacemen.

Tillekeratne Dilshan was undone by this factor as he ventured into a pull off paceman Tim Bresnan. Luke Wright, anticipating well and timing his dive to perfection at deep square-leg, came up with a superb catch.

The in-form Mahela Jayawardene was timing the ball sweetly. A flick off Bresnan raced to the fence.

A peach of a delivery — lifting and in the corridor — found the edge of Jayawardene's bat and 'keeper Kieswetter pouched the edge. This was a huge strike.

At 26 for three in the fifth over, the Sri Lankan innings was in a mess. England was gaining a stranglehold on the innings.

After the six Power Play overs, the score was 38 for three. Collingwood, then, introduced off-spinner Graeme Swann and left-arm spinner Michael Yardy.

The duel between Swann and Sangakkara was a compelling one. Swann varied his pace — a flighted ball would be followed by a quicker one — and tested the left-hander's footwork. Sangakkara fell for the bait.

The dip in the ball resulted in the Sri Lankan captain holing out. Sri Lanka, now, was reeling at 49 for four.

Yardy, a useful bowler in this variety, gave little away. The quicker ball is his stock delivery but there were occasions when he flighted and spun the ball away from the right-hander.

A fighting Mathews gave the innings a measure of respect but Sri Lanka was at least 25 runs short.

Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene c Kieswetter b Broad 10 ( 9b, 1x4), S. Jayasuriya c Collingwood b Sidebottom 1 ( 4b), T. Dilshan c Wright b Bresnan 9 ( 8b, 2x4), K. Sangakkara c Pietersen b Swann 16 ( 19b, 2x4), A. Mathews (run out) 58 ( 45b, 3x4, 1x6), C. Kapugedera c Bresnan b Broad 16 ( 27b, 2x4), T. Perera (not out) 7 ( 8b), C. Jayasinghe (not out) 2 ( 1b); Extras (lb-1, w-7, nb-1): 9. Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 128.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-20, 3-26, 4-47, 5-93, 6-126.

England bowling: Bresnan 4-0-41-1, Sidebottom 4-0-24-1, Broad 4-0-21-2, Swann 4-0-20-1, Yardy 4-0-21-0.

England: C. Kieswetter b Malinga 39 ( 29b, 5x4, 2x6), M. Lumb b Perera 33 ( 26b, 4x4, 1x6), K. Pietersen (not out) 42 ( 26b, 3x4, 2x6), P. Collingwood c Sangakkara b Perera 10 ( 13b), E. Morgan (not out) 2 ( 2b); Extras (lb-4, w-2): 6. Total (for three wkts. in 16 overs): 132.

Fall of wickets: 1-68, 2-80, 3-113.

Sri Lanka bowling: Dilshan 1-0-5-0, Mendis 4-0-19-0, Randiv 3-0-27-0, Mathews 1-0-10-0, Malinga 4-0-33-1, Jayasuriya 1-0-15-0, Perera 2-0-19-2 .

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