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Essex beat Sri Lanka by 22 runs (D/L method)
Brian Jeeves reporting from the Essex County Ground, Chelmsford
Six years ago this week, Yellow Sport was at Chelmsford to cover the arrival of the Sri Lankan tourists…
The Sri Lankan’s were forced to dodge the showers and ended up beaten as their summer tour of England and Ireland arrived in Chelmsford.
This was the tourists’ first game in the UK on this particular adventure, after overcoming Ireland in a weather-hit series in Dublin.
Despite heavy rain earlier in the day, proceedings got underway on time with Sri Lanka winning the toss and electing to field. However, within two overs the players were heading for the pavilion due to a burst of hail which soon turned into a thundery downpour with the Essex three without loss.
The crowd – somewhere in the region of the three thousand mark – took shelter wherever they could, and despite a break in the weather, the soggy outfield meant it was more than five hours before the umpires considered a resumption in play.
The delay must have been particularly frustrating for the hosts who have seen the elements prevail when they were on top during recent LV County Championship matches with both Surrey and Gloucestershire. It also served very little in the way of preparing the visitors for the challenge ahead.
As the ground staff worked tirelessly on the surface, the crowd’s patients was tested further when it was announced of another inspection by the Umpires – Messrs.’ Burns and Millns – which drew a chorus of discontent and a stampede for the exits.
Nevertheless, those who’d stayed were rewarded when news broke of a 21-over-per-side match with the Duckworth/Lewis method coming into the equation, this after a particularly treacherous area of the outfield was passed playable.
Once back out in the middle, Pettini was dropped by Tillekeratne Dilshan off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal, but just two balls later his luck run out, Lakmal getting his man with Perera displaying a safe pair of hands, the Essex man had scored 8.
Lakmal then removed Smith’s middle stump while Dhammika Prasad trapped Ravi Bopara lbw without scoring. Meanwhile, Alastair Cook went past fifty with a quite delightful sweep as Essex moved into three figures. Cook was ably assisted by Ben Foakes who hit a quick-fire half-century of his own before he was caught by Ashan Priyanjan off Dishan.
Cook was eventually out for 71, caught by Lakmol off Prasad after playing one shot too many. Essex closed their innings on 161/5 with Lakmal the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with figures of 2/21.
Chasing a revised D/L target of 169 the Tourists reply started disastrously with Kusal Perera sent back to the pavilion in the first over, lbw off the bowling of Oliver Newby. Then Newby struck again as Mahela Jayawardene was caught behind by Foakes.
Dilshan was moving along quite nicely for Sri Lanka, before becoming Monty Panesar’s first victim. Then Greg Smith removed Lahiru Thirimanne for 5 leaving the tourists struggling on 44-4.
Sri Lanka’s woes continued when skipper Angelo Mathews was caught by Cook off the bowling of Smith for 19, but Dinesh Chandimal held his nerve to chalk up an impressive 31 as Sri Lanka closed in on their target.
However, when Thisara Perera was caught by Foakes after skying a delivery from Reece Topley, the game once again seemed to swing Essex’s way. And the hosts turned the screw further when Panesar’s catch finally removed Chandima off Newby.
Panesar then enhanced his evening further, taking the wicket of Priyanjan, while Matt Salisbury claimed Prasad thanks to a catch from Bopara.
Sri Lanka finished on 146-9, with Essex winning by 22 runs (D/L Method).
Essex are next in action on Saturday, May 17, at noon, when they open their T20 Blast campaign against old adversaries Middlesex at Lords. For the Sri Lankans, the tour continues on Friday 16 when they take on Kent on a 50-over day/night game at Canterbury.