England vs. Sri Lanka: Cook scores first ton as captain to set a challenging target of 247
England suffered a setback in the last game after Mahela Jayawardene played a game-changing knock in the second ODI. The series is level at 1-1 and there could not have been a better occasion to exhibit authority. England’s new ODI skipper Alastair Cook scored a wonderful century after he was dropped early on in the innings. The game of cricket is such a great leveler. You can be hero on one day and a woeful man on the very next. Jayawardene might just have spilled the match when he dropped Cook in first slip in the seventh over of the match. Cook went on to play a marathon innings of 119 off 143 balls.
He was helped by useful contributions from Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell. Tim Bresnan scored a quick-fire 26 to propel England’s score before he was cleaned up by Lasith Malinga. Graeme Swann provided the last blitz scoring 11 runs off just 4 balls. The wicket has been assisting the bowlers a bit and the score will be difficult to chase down. The traditional notion of runs on the board is likely to come into play and pressure will be on the Lankan Lions. If the last match was any sign of things to come then this will be a good fight.
Earlier England had won the toss and elected to bat. They were hurt early by Lasith Malinga as he dismissed Kieswetter with a well disguised slower ball. The Sri Lankan bowlers got little respite after the dismissal of Jonathan Trott, as England went about collecting runs with a mix of caution and assertion. Other than Jeewan Mendis who got 2 wickets in his allotted 10 overs made a mark. Lakmal and Maliga picked up two wickets as well but they were expensive and largely wayward.
It will be interesting to see how Sri Lanka approach this target. Tilakratne Dilshan will go about playing his natural game for sure and his wicket will be half the work done for the English side. The other half will be made up by Kumara Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Whereas Dilshan can blow the match away, both Sangakkara and Jayawardene are craftsmen. They will build partnerships with anyone who assists them and become pillars in this run chase. If one of these top 3 batsman fires, we will surely see a match that goes down to the wire.