An unbeaten 72 from Mahela Jayawardene led Sri Lanka to an easy nine-wicket victory over a below-par England side in their one-off T20 clash.
From the word go it appeared England had missed a trick in Bristol with the in-form Ian Bell somehow left out of the starting XI, and the Warwickshire man’s omission proved costly as England’s middle and lower-order collapsed
Having lost the toss and been put into bat, Michael Lumb (2) and Craig Kieswetter (4) looked to get England off to a fast start, but their brutal approach failed to pay dividends, with the duo back in the hut with just 12 on the board.
With the openers having stuttered, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan came to the fore. The duo attacked from the outset as the resurrected the innings with a fine display of shots.
Morgan received a life when on 23, dropped by Angelo Mathews on the long on boundary. The tourists were made to pay for Mathews’ error as Morgan cracked 14 off Thisara Perera two overs later, with Pietersen weighing in with ten runs of his own in what appeared to be a match-turning over.
With the momentum firmly in the home side’s favour, Sri Lanka needed a breakthrough and as has been the case so many time before, Lasith Malinga was the man to provide them with one.
The Sri Lankan bowlers had been feeding the batsmen with far too many full tosses, and while they are usually Malinga’s forte, a timely bouncer had Morgan (47) mistiming a pull out to Jayawardene in the deep.
Pietersen (41) was outwitted by a quicker delivery from Sanath Jayasuriya in the next over and with his dismissal the wheels came off for England.
With Ravi Bopara looking woefully out of touch, and Samit Patel’s (0) return to the international fold ending with an embarrassingly sloppy run out, England stuttered just when they needed to kick on.
Having hit his one and only boundary Bopara (19) departed off the very next delivery, the Essex man becoming Jayasuriya’s second victim.
Luke Wright (9) offered little, and the task proved too great for Chris Woakes (7). Skipper Stuart Broad came a cropper off the final ball of the innings, run out attempting what would have been the forth bye of the over.
It was clear that England’s total of 136 was well below par, but the class of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara showed just how good the pitch could be when used well.
Broad’s decision to open the attack with Chris Woakes went wrong, with the youngster going for 23 in his first two overs. The rapid scoring (led by Jayawardene) meant that when Jade Dernbach picked up the wicket of Jayasuriya for eight, the total was already on 40 and consolidation was all that was required.
Jayawardene did more than just that, though, with his superb use of the pace of the ball rather than all out brutality a pleasure to watch. The right-hander showed that classical shots most certainly do have a place in the twenty-over game.
With his long time companion Kuamr Sangakkara at the other end, Sri Lanka made light work of an England attack that lacked any great threat.
On their returns, Samit Patel and Ravi Bopara were poor, with neither making any impact. Woakes is not an international new ball bowler (at least not yet) while Dernbach lacked discipline.
As a result it came as no surprise when Sri Lanka romped home with 16 balls to spare, handing their hosts good warning that they will be a much tougher prospect in coloured clothing than they were in the Test arena. Cricket365