There are many good reasons why Sri Lanka are World T20 Champions. Several of those good reasons were on show at the Oval on Tuesday evening. One is that they can call upon the expertise of their brilliant captain and death bowler Lasith Malinga. His mere presence in the Sri Lankan side meant England’s victory target of 184 was always going to be a bit too much. However, while Sri Lanka looked for boundaries every ball during their innings, England seemed to be building their innings for 15 overs and only injected a sense of urgency in their batting during the last 5 overs, 2 of which were bowled by Malinga. Scoring over 10 an over off Malinga is incredibly difficult so it begs the question why didn’t England look for boundaries earlier and leave themselves less to do in the last 5 overs.
Unfortunately England have a habit of leaving things late in limited overs cricket. They have a powerful lower middle order but that isn’t much use when players like Jos Buttler and Ravi Bopara are given to much to do. Bopara’s 28 not out showed that the Essex man can finish an innings for England but he is surely one place to low in the batting order.
It could also be true that in T20, you can’t have both Joe Root and Ian Bell in the same side. Bell looked frenetic during his innings of 13 and struggled with his timing. When Bell’s timing is off, he struggles to score quickly. For England’s next T20, against India later in the summer, Peter Moores may need to move Eoin Morgan up to four or pick a powerful batsman like James Vince in order to get England looking for boundaries earlier in the innings.
England’s template for T20 success really should be Sri Lanka. From the word go, the away side looked for boundaries. They got some luck but that’s the way it goes in T20. They were also helped by some poor fielding from England. The home side dropped three catches, one of them a sitter from Carberry. That drop proved crucial as the redeemed man, Thisera Perera, went on to whack 49 off 20 balls, giving Sri Lanka the above par total they needed. All they needed to do now was bowl tightly and let Malinga weave his magic.
For England there will be frustration. They did quite a bit right with the likes of Harry Gurney and Alex Hales putting in impressive performances. However, the frustration will come from the fact that England lost the game on familiar flaws. Poor fielding, poor death bowling (with the exception of Gurney) and not hitting the boundaries early enough in their innings.
The two sides will now contest 5 one day internationals and with stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara returning to the Sri Lankan line-up, England will need to get rid of those familiar flaws fast.
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