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Centuries from Dilshan, Tharanga knock England out of World Cup

Sunday March 27, 2011 08:26:42 AM, IANS

Colombo: Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga hammered unbeaten centuries as Sri Lanka crushed England by 10 wickets to march into the World Cup semi-final in style here at the R.Premadasa Stadium Saturday.


Dilshan scored 108 not out (115 balls, 10x4, 2x6) and then made sure Tharanga got his hundred, 102 not out (122b, 12x4, 1x6), and Sri Lanka reached the 230 run target with consummate ease in 39.3 overs. This is the highest total chased without a single wicket lost in a World Cup match, surpassing the 221 by West Indies against Pakistan in 1992.

Sri Lanka will now play New Zealand in the first semi-finals here Tuesday ahead of the clash between the other two sub-continental giants India and Pakistan at Mohali Wednesday.

The Sri Lankans will be playing the Black Caps a second time in this edition, having easily beaten them in the group game. The Sri Lankans had incidentally beaten England at the same stage, in the knockout rounds, on their way to winning the 1996 World Cup.

It was an explosive stuff as Dilshan struck his second century in the tournament, having scored 144 against Zimbabwe in the group stage.

It was a rollercoaster ride for the Englishmen as their fortunes fluctuae from one extreme to the other and eventually their luck ran out here.

There was no twist in the tale Saturday. The 'unexpected' drama that the Englishmen were able to enact right through their group stage as Strauss mentioned in his pre-match remarks was missing this day.

Once England failed to cash in on winning a good toss by not being able to press home the advantage from a healthy 182/3 in the batting powerplay taken in the 43rd over, they were pushed on to the backfoot.

England lost two wickets and could score only 23 runs in the five-over powerplay that most teams have found difficult to navigate in this World Cup.

Sri Lanka, who nearly made it difficult for themselves by poor outcricket, dropping catches like nobody's business, crawled back into the match and thereafter never loosened the grip.

Jonathan Trott made a gritty 86 and Eoin Morgan a chancy 50, but England failed to hit out in the slog overs and they did not leave enough runs for their bowlers to defend.

Tharanga and Dilshan mixed caution with aggression. England opened the attack with medium-pacer Tim Bresnan and off-spinner Graeme Swann, their two best bowlers of the tournament, but Dilshan and Tharanga had little difficulty in tackling them. It was just a matter of time when Tharanga hit the winning run and with it also his century.

England lost an opportunity when two catches went down off Tremlett, who himself could not hold on to a Tharanga hit on the follow.

As the partnership grew, England, who are playing non-stop for over five months now, saw the writing on the wall clearly and just went through the motions waiting for the match to end.

Batting did not look so easy in England's innings though and the visitors struggled to get past 200. Electing to bat, England made a cautious start and only 17 runs came in the first five overs and 32 in the mandatory powerplay of 10 overs.

With three frontline spinners in the side, skipper Sangakkara chose to bowl part-timer Dilshan to share the new ball with Lasith Malinga.

Dilshan had England captain Andrew Strauss (5) in all manner of problems, though Ian Bell (25), who replaced Matt Prior at the top of the batting order, appeared comfortable as he rotated strike.

Trott, England's mainstay in the tournament, then added 64 runs with Ravi Bopara (31) for the third wicket.

Muralitharan (2 for 54), who is playing his swan song international tournament, was introduced immediately after the drinks in the 19th over amid huge cheers from the crowd. He struck to dismiss Bopara who missed a full toss sweeping to be lbw.

Trott and Morgan (50 off 55 balls), who got three lives, added 91 runs for the fourth wicket. They dug in even as the three Sri Lankan spinners made life difficult for them. But the good work of the bowlers was undone by some sloppy fielding.

Morgan was dropped thrice. Thilan Samaraweera put down a sitter at deep point off Ajantha Mendis when he was at 17.

Muralitharan, too, felt the heat of poor fielding. First Mathews and then Rangana Herath dropped Morgan in the 39th over, leaving the off-spinner livid.







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