England won by 10 wickets (D/L)
England destroyed Sri Lanka as the series took another weird turn.
With a strike rate of 126.66, Alastair Cook dominated the Sri Lankan bowlers with a exceptional 95 not out as he and Craig Kieswetter raced to victory. Ironically, given his post-match comments at Lord’s, the cricketing gods should have rewarded him with a century. Although optimistic speculation generally has no benefit, we wonder what might have happened if these two had been able to carry on batting, though they were helped by the puny target. The longer this staggering run of form continues, the more we become convinced he is the best batsman in the world at the moment- although Indians and South Africans may have reason to argue differently.
After winning the toss in damp conditions with a green pitch, Cook had little doubt in choosing to field; Jimmy Anderson and Tim Bresnan immediately validated their captain’s decision by taking four early wickets as the Sri Lankans once again struggled against the moving ball. Current cricketing hero Kumar Sangakkara batted very well, with able support from Angelo Mathews, until Tim Bresnan reduced the chances of a Sri Lankan fight-back by dismissing the latter with a fine catch off his own bowling, running and diving to his left to take the ball inches above the ground. We’ve said it before, and we may say it again: the 2011 model T-Bres is a vast improvement on the earlier versions.
On the day that he became officially the world’s best ODI bowler, Graeme Swann went wicketless, but this proved irrelevant as Stuart Broad picked up his first wickets of the series and Jade Dernbach returned his best figures to date, albeit rather fortuitously.
Cook hit three consecutive fours from the first over and never looked back. Against admittedly shoddy bowling, he batted in as carefree a manner as he ever has in this form of cricket. Kieswetter too played well, willing to sit back when necessary or attack when appropriate.
Frankly, who knows? Each match so far has been one-sided, so a close finish to the final match would be appreciated. However the outcome may well depend on the weather and ground conditions: England will hope for more swing; Sri Lanka the opposite. That’s about as much as we can predict.