The England-Sri Lanka rift in the match’s shorter format was clearly visible in Cardiff on Wednesday 23 June as the hosts headed for an eight-wicket victory. Choosing to strike first with a revamped strike order, Sri Lanka only managed to post 129/7 in their allocated 20 overs. A goal of 130 was never going to trouble a batting team who are revered as one of the best in limit pass cricket, as they easily sidelined Sri Lankan bowlers.
The same old story
Nothing has changed for Sri Lanka in terms of performance with the bat. They have been wrestling in white ball cricket for quite some time and the story that unfolded on Wednesday was something their fans were used to. It took England nine balls to hit as Avishka Fernando skewed one straight to Chris Jordan. It took them 17 balls to find the power-play limit and they eventually lost their other opener, Danushka Gunathilaka, before the sixth. Skipper Kusal Perera tried to inject some momentum, but just when his team needed him to hit deep in the innings, he also made a mistake to go for 30 with seven overs left left.
What about the new-look middle order?
Mickey Arthur’s decision to send Kusal Mendis to number 4 and testing specialist Dhananjaya de Silva to number 5 backfired. Mendis struggled from the start and was trapped leg before the wicket by Liam Livingstone, who managed to keep Moeen Ali out of the XI. Four balls later, de Silva followed him to the pavilion as he cut a forehand to Adil Rashid at the third man. By the end of the ninth, Sri Lanka’s race rate was still below six and they had already lost four wickets.
Shanaka drags Sri Lanka to 129
Dasun Shanaka, at bat at No.6, once again showed why he is rated well in this format as he single-handedly dragged Sri Lanka past the 120 mark. made the best starts of his innings and at one point struggled to 13 of 19 balls, but Mark Wood’s back-to-back limits in the 14th helped him break the chains. A six over Jordan on wide and long in the penultimate inning was the highlight of his innings and he managed to clear the ropes once again in the final on a hard-fought fifty.
The contrasting start of the power play
Sri Lanka clocked 39/2 on the power play. England only needed 3.3 overs to score the same without losing a wicket. Jos Buttler and Jason Roy don’t need an invite to go crazy and with a modest target in front of them, they’ve gone all out. They recovered three ovens from Dushmantha Chameera in the fourth and backed him up with a 17-run over Nuwan Pradeep. Even though de Silva turned the situation around, Buttler made sure the power play ended on a high with consecutive limits off Isuru Udana.
Did Sri Lanka have a chance?
Not really. Three fairly calm overs after the power play ultimately resulted in a wicket for the visitors when Roy left thanks to an excellent capture from Gunathilaka midway through. But Buttler took matters into his own hands despite the vigilant departure of Dawid Malan on the other end. He crushed de Silva for a long time for a whopping six and shot the next bullet for a limit to reach half a century. Even though Udana made a mess of the stumps by knocking down Malan, England did the job to win with 17 balls to lose.
Short scores: Sri Lanka 129/7 in 20 overs (Dasun Shanaka 50, Kusal Perara 30; Adil Rashid 2-17, Sam Curran 2-25) lost to England 130/2 in 17.1 overs (Jos Buttler 68 *, Jason Roy 36; Dushmantha Chameera 1-24) by 8 wickets.
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