DAMBULLA: England gained a great victory, on an island far from its own and on a pitch that was all wrong for a one-day international, avenged its defeat earlier in the week amid the dancing fireflies at Rangiri Stadium and levelled the five-match series at 1-1
England needed all its overs to make 234 for eight; Sri Lanka made 169 and lost by 65 runs; ample compensation for England’s 119-run defeat in the first game.
England’s woes grew as the news filtered through from London that Andrew Flintoff was less and less likely to play in the Test series here in December and there was confirmation of a sort when the travelling ECB spokesman said: He will not be ruled out until the Test team is announced.
Then he realised how that might sound and tried desperately to backtrack with “not be ruled out before the announcement and there will not be a decision in the next couple of days.” Believe me, Flintoff is not going anywhere yet.
Out on the field there was just as much confusion. Paul Collingwood won the toss, a path to victory here but found the second of three pitches prepared for the first leg of this series slow and tricky.
Kevin Pietersen needed 41 balls for 12. It was his least productive innings of any length since he won a place in the one-day side.
Shah sticks around
Owais Shah showed what was possible. He arrived with four out for 61 in 19 overs, found scoring just as difficult as everyone else, put on 78 with Collingwood, who does not understand how to duck out of difficult situations, and finished with 81 off 91 balls out of 234 for eight.
He was supported by the 28-year-old Graeme Swann, a deft worker of the ball, who hit not a single boundary in 51 balls. He scored 34 and added 70 with Shah.
Stuart Broad in his first two overs destroyed the best of the middle order. Running in with that youthful spring that is his trademark, he produced a slower ball that forced Kumar Sangakkara to edge a catch behind and sent a short ball rearing past Chamara Silva who flicked it high into the gully.
When the runs flowed so swiftly that Sri Lanka had 85 in 21 compared with England’s 83 in 25, Swann came on and hit the outside of Dilshan’s off stump. Jayawardene was caught off Collingwood at the same score, after 85 minutes for 23. The Nottingham three and the man from Karachi played major parts in this notable win but it is the spirit of Collingwood that drives England now.