A win at last for the Lankans


OLD TRAFFORD turned out to be disastrous venue for England once again. In the summer of 2001, England made 86 against Australia led by Steve Waugh. Nasser Hussain's team received a real drubbing then in the NatWest Trophy tri-series. The third team then was Pakistan. A year later, now, at the same ground, England was bowled out for 206, chasing a modest total of 229, a result which gave Sri Lanka its first win in the championship.

After the 23-run defeat, Nasser Hussain said: "I am gutted we have lost a game we should have won and everyone in that dressing room should feel gutted that Sri Lanka beat us like that. It was a clumsy performance in all the three departments. There were some soft dismissals and if we had tightened one area of the game, we would have won." Hussain went on saying: "We do some good things, but we also do some very ordinary things in one-day cricket and we have to get that out of our system. We will have to pick ourselves up pretty quickly. In all honesty, I did not think it would turn as much. In hindsight we could have probably played two spinners."

Kumara Sangakkara punishes Snape during his fine knock of 70.-N. SRIDHARAN

The fact was that England was spun out by an opening batsman, who bowls left-arm spin. Sanath Jayasuriya, who had 217 wickets before this match, played a key-role in the victory. Leg spinner, Upul Chandana, who had 84 wickets, and offspinner Thilan Samaraweera, who is just emerging in the Sri Lankan team, also did their part. England collapsed from 100 for three to 206. It had been a terrible ten days for the Sri Lankans, not able to get their bearings right against England and India. Having been knocked out of the tournament, the Sri Lankans made changes. They dropped the out of form Romesh Kaluwitharana so that Marvan Atapattu could open the innings with Jayasuriya and Kumara Sangakkara could bat at No. 3.

But this match had become inconsequential and so there was no pressure on the Lankans. India played two matches in less than 48 hours at Lord's (June 29 against England) and at the Oval (June 30 against Sri Lanka) and now Sri Lanka was being asked to play India (July 6 at Edgbaston) and England (July 7 at Manchester).

The travel time from Edgbaston to Manchester is about two hours on the motorway, but the Sri Lankans might have been tired even to make such a journey after a good show.

Jayasuriya and Atapattu gave good start, though the Sri Lankan captain was not his usual self. Atapattu attacked Darren Gough and debutant Alex Tudor was not shown any mercy as well. Tudor had taken two wickets against the Sri Lankans in the second Test at Edgbaston and seven in the third at Old Trafford. Jayasuriya and Atapattu got the better of the England opening bowlers, Gough and Tudor, but the latter had his first success when he had the ball climbing and taking a leading edge from Jayasuriya. Nasser Hussain did not miss the opportunity. After the first wicket stand of 59, Atapattu fell a victim. A smart piece of work by Paul Collingwood. Atapattu made a few fine shots. He and Mahela Jayawardene made the scoreboard tick. In Sangakkara, Sri Lanka had the best batsman in the middle. He hit full blooded shots whereas Jayawardene used soft hands.

England was fortunate to break the partnership that yielded 89 runs. Tudor's throw ended Jayawardene's innings. His flat arc throw helped Alec Stewart to remove the bails.

Samaraweera is smartly stumped by Alec Stewart off Michael Vaughan. The English bowler picked up four wickets in the match, his best ever figures in one-day internationals.-N. SRIDHARAN

Sri Lanka did not advance far, after Jayawardene's dismissal. Sangakkara was surprised when he was adjudged leg before to offspinner Michael Vaughan. Vaughan's best bowling effort in one-day internationals before this Manchester match was two for 37. He got the wickets of Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Thilan Samaraweera and Chaminda Vaas to finish with a career best of four for 22 off six overs.

Jeremey Snape, too, had a good outing. He picked up the wicket of Russel Arnold and finished with one for 34 from his 10 overs. There were signs that the spinners would command some respect when England chased a target of 230.

As it happened, Jayasuriya got into the act after Hussain's promising innings came to an end because of a good fielding effort that produced the third run out in the match. Pramodaya Wickremasinghe was given only one over in which he gave away 10 runs.

The Sri Lankans sensed victory after the dismissal of Andrew Flintoff. The England lower order pair in Irani and Collingwood raised 25 off 36 balls and Collingwood and Snape made 32 off 26 balls before the fifth run out of the match settled the issue in Sri Lanka's favour.

The scores:

Sri Lanka: M. Atapattu (run out) 34; S. Jayasuriya c Hussain b Tudor 23; K. Sangakkara lbw b Vaughan 70; M. Jayawardene (run out) 42; R. Arnold c & b Snape 6; C. Silva c Collingwood b Vaughan 9; T. Samaraweera st. Stewart b Vaughan 3; U. Chandana c Giles (sub) b Flintoff 15; C. Vaas b Vaughan 0; N. Zoysa c Knight b Gough 9; P. Wickremasinghe (not out) 3; Extras (lb-9, nb-1, w-5) 15. Total (in 49.4 overs) 229.

Fall of wickets: 1-59, 2-73, 3-162, 4-185, 5-191, 6-200, 7-205, 8-205, 9-224.

Andrew Flintoff is bowled by Sanath Jayasuriya. The Lankan captain, though he did not make a big impact with the bat, bowled his spinners to good effect, to claim three wickets. In fact, his spell helped Sri Lanka win the match at Old Trafford.-N. SRIDHARAN

England bowling: Gough 10-0-51-1, Tudor 8-1-44-1, Flintoff 5.4-0-29-1, Irani 10-0-40-0, Snape 10-2-34-1, Vaughan 6-1-22-4.

England: M. Trescothick b Zoysa 27; N. Knight b Zoysa 29; N. Hussain (run out) 28; M. Vaughan c & b Chandana 14; A. Stewart c Chandana b Samaraweera 8; R. Irani c Zoysa b Jayasuriya 28; A. Flintoff b Jayasuriya 7; P. Collingwood (run out) 29; J. Snape (not out) 15; A. Tudor c Atapattu b Jayasuriya 6; D. Gough (run out) 0; Extras (b-1, lb-10, w-4) 15. Total (in 47.4 overs) 206.

Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-76, 3-100, 4-108, 5-118, 6-135, 7-160, 8-186, 9-200.

Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 6-0-29-0, Zoysa 7-0-42-2, Wickremasinghe 1-0-10-0, Arnold 5-0-24-0, Chandana 9.4-1-25-1, Samaraweera 10-1-27-1, Jayasuriya 9-0-38-3.

Impressive knock

KUMARA SANGAKKARA was projected badly by a section of the media, because of his aggressive behaviour during the Sri Lanka-England series in Sri Lanka.

Nasser Hussain's team bounced back from a 0-1 deficit to win the Test series 2-1. It is said that all the bad blood started, after Sangakkara won an appeal for a catch to dismiss Michael Atherton in the first Test at Galle. The home team won the Test. The English players did not like Sangakkara because he was indulging in too much of appealing. Sangakkara had not finished with Atherton. The two were once again engaged in a war of words during the third Test at Kandy. Frayed tempers were the order of the day during that Test series. Sangakkara made 95 in the Kandy Test. It showed his tremendous competitive spirit and 'I will not give an inch attitude.'

Similarly, Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper batsman made a timely 70 to rekindle the spirit of his team which was beaten hollow in the first four matches of the NatWest Trophy III triseries.

It was the second of the back to back matches for the Sri Lankans. The Indians too played back to back matches. The draw was scheduled in such a way that England did not have any back to back match. The Sri Lankans put up a game fight before the likes of Rahul Dravid and Yuveraj Singh took away the match from them. At Old Trafford, Sangakkara walked in after the dismissal of his captain Jayasuriya and came up a match-winning knock. The two cover drives he made off the bowling of Alex Tudor and Ronnie Irani were eye-catching. The first one flew past the England captain Nasser Hussain. The second one bisected the two covers and hit all along the ground. Without his timely effort, Sri Lanka would have floundered. Lanka made 229.

Sangakkara played four minutes short of two hours to make 70 off 79 balls with eight fours. Later, he received the Man of the Match award for his effort.