By Rick Eyre for CricInfo/ninemsn
3 February 1999
England were in trouble from the moment that stand-in captain Adam Hollioake
couldn't decide what to do when he won the toss. His eventual decision to
bowl first backfired as Sri Lanka's spinners dominated to give their side an
eleven run victory in Wednesday night's dead rubber in the Carlton & United
One-Day Series at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Play began 105 minutes late at 4.15pm after a morning downpour saturated the
outfield, the match reduced to 44 overs a side. Alec Stewart rested for the
match, Hollioake A getting the chance to captain while Hollioake B finally
made it into the starting eleven. John Crawley kept wicket, while Ashley
Giles was the sole spinner in the lineup - a fatal selection decision in
hindsight. For Sri Lanka, Aravinda de Silva played his second match of the
series, while for Sanath Jayasuriya (broken arm) and Mutiah Muralitharan
(groin) the tour was already over.
Avishka Gunawardene got off to a shaky start when an apparent lbw to Darren
Gough was not given on the second ball of the innings. He settled in with
fellow opener Romesh Kaluwitharana for an opening stand of 71 in 16.4 overs
before being easily stumped off the bowling of Giles after scoring 24.
Pinch-hitter Chaminda Vaas was worth 14 runs before losing his wicket on a
needless second run.
Kalu played well for his half-century but holed out to Darren Gough at mid-
off from the bowling of Alleyne after making 54. Arjuna Ranatunga came to
the crease, hooted by parts of the small crowd. It must be said that the
reception he has had since the Adelaide debacle is nothing compared to what
Sir Richard Hadlee had to endure with Australian crowds throughout the
1980's. Arjuna didn't stay around long enough to provide much entertainment
- in fact he provided no entertainment at all, getting a thick edge to
Nasser Hussain off Gough's bowling from the fourth ball he faced. Out for a
duck, Ranatunga has scored 25 runs in his last four innings of the series.
Mark Alleyne demonstrated that the Sunday League has produced some benefits
for English cricket, his seemingly friendly medium pacers removing
Jayawardene and Atapattu. It should be said, however, that Jayawardene and
Atapattu, neither of whom have experienced the delights of Sunday League
cricket, had themselves to blame. Vince Wells removed Upul Chandana for a
duck and Sri Lanka were 134 for 7.
Aravinda de Silva (who does have Sunday League experience) was joined by
number nine batsman Hashan Tillakaratne. Why he was batting at nine is
anyone's guess. His 13 not out from 35 balls in slow conditions acted as
counterpoint while de Silva kept the runs ticking over. Sri Lanka's 44 over
innings ended when Aravinda pulled Wells to mid wicket only to be caught by
a gentleman in the members stand, his six bringing up his personal 52 not
out from 52 balls and giving Sri Lanka 181 for 7 - a quite reasonable total
in the situation.
Ranatunga, whose captaincy has veered between the uninspired and the
downright cranky in this series, pulled a surprise when he brought off-
spinner de Silva on to share the new ball with Chaminda Vaas, who was
discarded after four overs on a pitch taking lots of turn and uneven bounce.
England were kept to 52 runs without loss in their fifteen overs (the field
restrictions coming off after 13) before Wells went for a dance down the
pitch to Samaraweera, missed and was well bowled. Two balls and no more
runs later, the danger man Graeme Hick was gone, bowled by an offie that
turned a mile to crash into middle stump.
The run rate was climbing when Nasser Hussain was stumped from a
Tillakaratne wide in the 25th over. Hussain's 9 coming from 24 deliveries.
Wicketkeeper Crawley joined opener Knight and moved the runs along before
Crawley fell to a diving Ranatunga catch, the score 118 for 4 after 33
overs. Nick Knight's innings of 58 ended when he played all over the top of
a Chandana leggie that kept low.
England's batsmen were never able to break away as Ranatunga used five
spinners (de Silva, Samaraweera, Chandana, Tillakaratne and Jayawardene) in
rotation. When Hollioake A's captains knock of 13 ended in a stumping,
England still needed 20 to win from 8 deliveries. Chaminda Vaas kept the
44th and last over of the match under Sri Lanka's control, and England ended
their evening on 170 for 9.
Samaraweera and Chandana took three wickets each, while Wickremasinghe
didn't even get a bowl. Though a finals berth is well beyond them now, Sri
Lanka showed that they can win matches on a spinners track without the
presence of one M.Muralitharan. This was certainly one of Ranatunga's
better games as captain, however in all honesty, it was a lacklustre game
whose outcome gives no clues to either side's World Cup prospects. At least
it provides some consolation for Sri Lanka whose Australian tour has been
miserable in more ways than one.
Tilak Samaraweera was man of the match, although Aravinda de Silva would
have been a worthy winner also. Australia play England at the SCG on Friday
night, the match already a sellout. Sri Lanka play their series finale
against Australia at the MCG on Sunday.