Thursday, April 05, 2007

Clippings: Sri Lanka edge out England

ST JOHN'S, Antigua
Sri Lanka upstaged England by two runs in their Super 8 World Cup game, after young batsman Ravi Bopara was dismissed off the last ball, having almost snatched the game on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka fast bowler Dilhara Fernando bowled Bopara with three runs needed off the final delivery to leave England stranded on 233 for eight chasing Sri Lanka's 235 all out.
The 21-year-old Bopara smashed 52 off 53 balls in only his fifth appearance for England after a brilliant chase with wicketkeeper Paul Nixon (42), the duo adding 87 runs for the seventh wicket.
Sri Lanka's second victory in their third Super Eights match gave them six points and left them on the verge of a semi-final berth while England have just two points from two games with four left to play.
"We are just gutted," said England skipper Michael Vaughan.
"I always thought we would get over the line in that last over," he said. "It wasn't to be but the players can be very proud about the way they've played today."
England had looked set for an upset victory over their formidable rivals until a middle-order collapse saw them lose three wickets for seven runs to be reduced to 133 for six.
With 103 still runs needed, the pair attacked with left-hander Nixon reverse-sweeping off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for six.
Nixon was dismissed with England needing 16 off seven balls.
Bopara took a four, two and a single off three successive deliveries to leave England needing four off the last two. Tail-ender Sajid Mahmood took a leg bye before Fernando ended Bopara's brave innings.
Sri Lankan bowlers had staged a superb fightback after Kevin Pietersen (58) and Ian Bell put on 90 runs for the third wicket to revive the innings from 11-2.
Bell was run out for 47, failing to ground his bat when bowler Sanath Jayasuriya flicked a Pietersen drive on to the stumps.
Muralitharan then had the aggressive Pietersen caught and bowled to win an intense personal battle before Fernando dismissed Andrew Flintoff (2) and in-form Paul Collingwood (14) in the same over.
England paceman Sajid Mahmood took four for 50 and Flintoff three for 35 to cap a superb England effort on the field in the morning after Vaughan elected to bowl first.
Opener Upul Tharanga top-scored with a patient 62 and added 91 runs for the third wicket with skipper Mahela Jayawardene (56) after early setbacks.
New ball bowlers James Anderson and Mahmood and first change Flintoff tied down scoring as Vaughan rotated his bowlers and set excellent fields.
Mahmood removed dangerous opener Sanath Jayasuriya (25), who played on to the stumps, and had Kumar Sangakkara (17) caught at point with a slow full toss.
The 37-year-old Jayasuriya, winning a one-day record 385th cap had begun aggressively after scoring a match-winning 115 against hosts West Indies in the previous game on Sunday.
Sri Lanka lost the last six wickets for 42 runs before they were all out off the last ball.

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