Wales condemn France to Six Nations jeers but need more of Rhys Webb flair

• Scrum-half’s instincts key to Wales revival against top sides
Sam Warburton waits for knee injury swelling to subside
Match report: France 13-20 Wales

There was a time when it took something special to win in Paris but now all a team need are the basics. Wales sorted out their set pieces, which they used to get their hard-running backs over the gainline, tackled with relish and kicked their penalties in claiming a victory that put them back in the title race after the opening night defeat to England.

France huffed without puff. Beating them, even here, means little in the wider context anymore. Ireland in Cardiff next week will ask considerably more of Wales who could hardly believe their fortune when France started running from deep early, moves foundering through sloppy passes, poor handling and a lack of understanding. It was sad to see, like a boxer well past his prime trying to revisit past glories, the fight getting more distant from them with each attempted blow.

Continue reading…



Wales condemn France to Six Nations jeers but need more of Rhys Webb flair

• Scrum-half’s instincts key to Wales revival against top sides
Sam Warburton waits for knee injury swelling to subside
Match report: France 13-20 Wales

There was a time when it took something special to win in Paris but now all a team need are the basics. Wales sorted out their set pieces, which they used to get their hard-running backs over the gainline, tackled with relish and kicked their penalties in claiming a victory that put them back in the title race after the opening night defeat to England.

France huffed without puff. Beating them, even here, means little in the wider context anymore. Ireland in Cardiff next week will ask considerably more of Wales who could hardly believe their fortune when France started running from deep early, moves foundering through sloppy passes, poor handling and a lack of understanding. It was sad to see, like a boxer well past his prime trying to revisit past glories, the fight getting more distant from them with each attempted blow.

Continue reading…



Wales condemn France to Six Nations jeers but need more of Rhys Webb flair

• Scrum-half’s instincts key to Wales revival against top sides
Sam Warburton waits for knee injury swelling to subside
Match report: France 13-20 Wales

There was a time when it took something special to win in Paris but now all a team need are the basics. Wales sorted out their set pieces, which they used to get their hard-running backs over the gainline, tackled with relish and kicked their penalties in claiming a victory that put them back in the title race after the opening night defeat to England.

France huffed without puff. Beating them, even here, means little in the wider context anymore. Ireland in Cardiff next week will ask considerably more of Wales who could hardly believe their fortune when France started running from deep early, moves foundering through sloppy passes, poor handling and a lack of understanding. It was sad to see, like a boxer well past his prime trying to revisit past glories, the fight getting more distant from them with each attempted blow.

Continue reading…



Chelsea’s José Mourinho the Happy One as he ends his trophy drought

The Portuguese wins his first trophy for 914 days, a first for the new era, but very much in the style of the old Mourinho era
• Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: Capital One Cup final match report
• Chelsea old guard triumph but Spurs academy talent point to future
• How the players rated at Wembley

Maybe he really is the Happy One after all. Certainly José Mourinho looked unusually animated in the moment of victory – all smiles, hugs and energetic air-punch combinations – as Chelsea produced a performance of gristle, discipline and craft to beat Tottenham 2-0 and lift the Capital One Cup. This was also a first trophy of any kind for Mourinho in 914 days as a manager at Real Madrid and Chelsea.

Not that anybody (apart perhaps from José himself, and even then only quietly, late at night) is counting. More to the point there was confirmation at Wembley that this re-geared Chelsea team is indeed in transition. Albeit not towards the free-flowing attacking force of the autumn , a team of Hazards and Oscars, but towards something more truly carved in its manager’s image: the dry ice clearing, feather boa dropped to the floor, the mask askew to reveal the familiar unsmiling face beneath. Welcome back, cussed, trophy-winning José. For a while there we thought we’d lost you old boy.

Continue reading…



Major league baseball’s 1st black Latino star Minoso dies (Yahoo Sports)

Minnie Minoso, the seemingly ageless Cuban slugger who broke into the majors just two years after Jackie Robinson and turned into the game’s first black Latino star, has died, a medical examiner in Illinois said Sunday. There is some question about Minoso’s age but the Chicago White Sox say he was 90. Minoso played 12 of his 17 seasons in Chicago, hitting .304 with 135 homers and 808 RBIs for the White Sox. The White Sox retired his No. 9 in 1983 and there is a statue of Minoso at U.S. Cellular Field.

England v Sri Lanka: Cricket World Cup – live!

4.07am GMT

28th over: Sri Lanka 146-1 (Thirimanne 76, Sangakkara 20)

Smart over from Woakes, that, which included hurrying Sangakkara, who tried and failed to pull him to the leg-side fence. But annoyance off the last ball as Woakes bowls back of a length and Thirimanne uses the pace to just guide the ball between the keeper and third-man sweeper for four!

4.04am GMT

27th over: Sri Lanka 140-1 (Thirimanne 71, Sangakkara 19)

A tickle to fine leg sees Sangakkara pick up three. Thirimanne tries to clear his front leg and sweep Ali over mid-wicket. It’s inside-edged onto his own boot and nearly carries to mid-wicket. What a bonus that would have been. For all of us.

4.01am GMT

26th over: Sri Lanka 144-1 (Thirimanne 69, Sangakkara 15)

Good, albeit standard stuff from Woakes. Thirimanne tries to take the cover off the fifth delivery, before ducking under the last.

3.58am GMT

25th over: Sri Lanka 131-1 (Thirimanne 69, Sangakkara 13)

Oh I don’t know. There’s a bit of turn. There weren’t any boundaries. Everything’s going brilliantly.

3.56am GMT

24th over: Sri Lanka 129-1 (Thirimanne 68, Sangakkara 12)

Joe Root is replaced by Woakes, who begins around the wicket to Thirimanne, who leans into one through cover for a couple. He then drives in the air but it’s over the in-field and bounces towards Chris Jordan – on as a sub for Root – who fields.

Genius banner .., "New ICC rule for England – one hand one bounce " #ENGVSL pic.twitter.com/j7jttOhaUE

3.51am GMT

23rd over: Sri Lanka 124-1 (Thirimanne 64, Sangakkara 11)

Poor start from Moeen, who goes short and Sangakkara swivels the ball behind square on the leg side and finds the boundary. Later, Sanga blocks – quite literally blocks – to long-on for a single. Yay.

3.48am GMT

22nd over: Sri Lanka 116-1 (Thirimanne 62, Sangakkara 5)

Sangakkara uses his feet to Root before Thirimanne delicately angles a shorter, quicker one from Root down to third man for Four! He tries it again but nearly edges through to Buttler.

3.45am GMT

21st over: Sri Lanka 109-1 (Thirimanne 57, Sangakkara 3)

Bit of turn from Ali and Thirimanne responds by getting to the pitch of the ball and hitting a nice checked-drive over cover for a couple.

3.43am GMT

20th over: Sri Lanka 105-1 (Thirimanne 54, Sangakkara 2)

More off spin with Joe Root. Flatter than Moeen, with not as much turn. Probably worth getting one of the front-line pacers against Sangakkara early on?

3.41am GMT

19th over: Sri Lanka 100-1 (Thirimanne 51)

Thirimanne brings up his half century. He’s made England pay for dropping him on three. The hundred partnership comes up off 113 balls. The over then ends in the breakthrough, as Ali tempts Dilshan into changing his mind, essentially, and Morgan takes a simple catch. Just the small matter of Kumar Sangakkara in next.

3.39am GMT

Well – where did that come from? Routine off spinner from Ali and Dilshan gets himself in a muddle and just dinks the ball to Morgan at midwicket. Easy.

3.36am GMT

18th over: Sri Lanka 97-0 (Thirimanne 49, Dilshan 43)

Finn again. Fielders are on the fence – it’s all gone a bit defensive. Short from Finn and Dilshan whips it to square leg for a single. Thirimanne finds a gap in the covers for one of his own. When Thiri is back on strike, Morgan gives him a fourth slip. But they need a hell of a lot more than that.

England should have waved a massive bag of cash under Shane Bond’s nose. #EngvSL #CWC15

3.31am GMT

17th over: Sri Lanka 92-0 (Thirimanne 47, Dilshan 41)

Tight from Ali but singles are taken comfortable and things tick along.

3.26am GMT

16th over: Sri Lanka 91-0 (Thirimanne 46, Dilshan 40)

Finn drifts too leg side again and Dilshan helps it to the square leg sponge. Dilshan’s annoyed he couldn’t take more than the seven off it, but England have some serious troubles here if Finn can’t be trusted for his 10.

Steve Finn is spraying it around like a drunkard at a urinal. #ENGvSL

3.21am GMT

15th over: 84-0 (Thirimanne 43, Dilshan 35)

Change of pace now with Moeen Ali. Bit of width and Dilshan cuts behind square for four! Some decent ring-fielding keeps the rest of the over to two.

3.17am GMT

14th over: Sri Lanka 78-0 (Thirimanne 43, Dilshan 29)

Looks like Finn is hurrying Dilshan, who’s not his natural slappy-happy self post Power Play. Perhaps just sensing Thirimanne’s good form and taking a back seat. Or maybe not – gorgeous shot through mid wicket as Finn drifts onto his pads. Poor from him.

3.13am GMT

13th over: Sri Lanka 73-0 (Thirimanne 43, Dilshan 25)

Woakes starts well and limits the news from the over to Dilshan losing his shoe while setting off for a single. Sadly, that’s overshadowed by a lovely cover drive from Thirimanne.

3.09am GMT

Nonsense from Darren in Clinton, here.

“Woakes is going to take four wickets here. He’s due.”

3.08am GMT

12th over: Sri Lanka 67-0 (Thirimanne 38, Dilshan 24)

Steven Finn replaces Broad and dishes up something short, first up, but it’s poorly directed and should probably have been a wide. His third ball is a wide, fourth ball punched down the ground for four through a poor dive from Broad and then he runs the ball off the face, over the slips, for another four!

3.04am GMT

11th over: Sri Lanka 57-0 (Thirimanne 29, Dilshan 24)

Woakes replacing Anderson now that the Power Play overs are done. It’s a controlled over – two from the first two, nothing from the next four.

2.59am GMT

10th over: Sri Lanka 55-0 (Thirmanne 28, Dilshan 23)

Broad yet to settle on a length, but he has upped his pace. And his niggle – a short ball to Dilshan sees a single taken and Broad makes him go around rather than through him. A quick word and the umpire steps in, before Broad returns to his mark and bowls a well-directed yorker at Thirimanne, which is kept out. Two off the end of the over and 55 off the Power Play – Sri Lanka’s highest this World Cup.

2.54am GMT

9th over: Sri Lanka 52-0 (Thirimanne 26, Dilshan 22)

Cracking four through cover from Thirimanne – Anderson finding no swing from around the wicket, and it’s punished. A scrambled single should have resulted in a run out, but Broad’s throw from mid on is wayward. Another pull from Dilshan looks destined for the boundary, but a superb dive from Moeen Ali saves three. Gorgeous square drive from Thirimanne sees them past fifty. This is the 10th fifty stand between these two in 20 attempts.

2.50am GMT

8th over: Sri Lanka 42-0 (Thirimanne 17, Dilshan 19)

Start of the over is carted for SIX over square leg! Rather tame bumper from Broad is read well by Dilshan. The next couple aren’t a full toss and wide away singer that Dilshan goes after, finding nothing but air. Then SIX again; a decent length ball outside off is whipped across into the stand. Cracking shot. Two off the last ball.

Pissing Dilshan off is working remarkably well so far. #CWC2015

2.46am GMT

7th over: Sri Lanka 28-0 (Thirimanne 17, Dilshan 7)

Dilshan’s weak zone is highlight at the top of off stump. My weak zone is just under my right knee (skiing accident when I was 11. I’ll save you the details but, basically, it gave me an excuse to do nothing but eat chips for a month). Jimmy gets annoyed that Finn doesn’t stop Thirimanne from getting two. Taylor cheers him up with a brilliant stop at cover, saving four.

2.41am GMT

6th over: Sri Lanka 25-0 (Thirimanne 15, Dilshan 6)

Much better from Broad, as he frustrates Thirimanne further. The Sri Lankan has passed 2,000 ODI runs with this innings. He gets a full ball low on his bat, breaking the toe, so calls for another. The delay allows James Taylor to fetch a helmet and go in at short-leg (tee hee). Thiri ducks under the expected short ball. Then right behind a full-y.

2.36am GMT

5th over: Sri Lanka 25-0 (Thirimanne 15, Dilshan 6)

Really loose from Thirimanne, who has a pretty tame drive that’s aerial but is out of the reach of mid-off and runs away, down the ground, for four! Embarrassing two balls later, as he puts everything into a lofted straight drive and it barely makes it out of the 30-yard circle. He gets off strike, muttering to himself along the single, before Dilshan plays and misses.

2.33am GMT

4th over: Sri Lanka 18-0 (Thirimanne 7, Dilshan 6)

Bouncer over Thirimanne’s wides could well have been called wide, but Rod Tucker’s arms stay by his side. Play and a miss for the next ball, which elicits a short appeal. DROP! Buttler’s fault, that, as the edge is found, it’s heading to Root’s right; Buttler goes to make an attempt and then pulls out, late. Root had no chance. More short rubbish from Broad and that’s four byes over the keeper’s head. Run to third man finishes an eventful over.

2.28am GMT

3rd over: Sri Lanka 9-0 (Thirimanne 3, Dilshan 6)

Comfortable for Jimmy, as he ties Thirimanne down with some good line and length, but strays on his pads, fifth ball, and allows him to get off strike. Dilshan blocks the final delivery – one from the over.

The good news for #srilanka is that a bigger run chase has been achieved here before! In 2005 the @BLACKCAPS scored 320 to beat @CricketAus

2.26am GMT

2nd over: Sri Lanka 8-0 (Thirimanne 2, Dilshan 6)

Hmmm thought Chris Woakes would be a better bet here, but the ball is handed to Broad. Full and wide and Dilshan throws everything at it and edges over the slips for four! The next ball scoots down the leg side, drawing a noise, and there’s a half-hearted appeal. No bat, bit of thigh – not out. Odd, one-handed twist to the leg-side gives Thirimanne the strike, who mis-times for none. Decent finish to the over is ruined by the first drunken murmurings of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”.

2.20am GMT

1st over: Sri Lanka 2-0 (Thirimanne 1, Dilshan 1)

Anderson with the new ball up against Thirimanne, who punches the ball (literally) into the leg side. Shambolic use of black under-armour skins under blue shirts from him. Anderson tries to bring Dilshan forward, eventually getting the right hander driving to wide mid-off, for a scampered single. Decent shape so far.

2.12am GMT

Well, wasn’t that fun?

Just seen a replay of Jos Buttler’s weird six over cover – the one he hit off a yorker and went about shin height all the way.

1.56am GMT

In the end an excellent England innings, with stand-out performances from Bell part one (Bell part two was less convincing, but he started well), Root and Buttler. They got stuck in the doldrums for a little bit in the middle, as is their wont, but they end up with a very fine score and are favourites to win this now. 306 is the third-highest one-day score on this ground, but the statistics suggest that if one side scores big here, their opponents do too – of the five other 300+ scores here, two came in a match between Australia and New Zealand in 2005, and another two in a game between New Zealand and Pakistan in 2004. The odd one out was New Zealand’s 303 against India last month, a match they ended up winning by 87 runs.

All very promising for England, then. Vithushan Ehantharajah will lead you through Sri Lanka’s response – all emails to vithushan.ehantharajah.casual@theguardian.com please. Bye!

1.48am GMT

50 overs: England 309-6 (Buttler 39, Woakes 9)

Buttler thumps the final ball of the over and indeed the innings over midwicket for a single-bounce boundary, completing a super 19-ball cameo!

1.47am GMT

49.5 overs: England 305-6 (Buttler 35, Woakes 9)

Dilshan, the fourth bowler of Sri Lanka’s final two overs (a real curiosity, that one) takes over the bowling, and Buttler pushes to long off and manages to run a couple.

1.46am GMT

49.5 overs: England 303-6 (Buttler 33, Woakes 9)

That’s another high full toss – this pretty much head high – another no ball, and Lakmal will not be allowed to complete his over!

1.45am GMT

49.4 overs: England 302-6 (Buttler 33, Woakes 9)

I’m not entirely sure how Buttler hoiked a wide and just ever-so-slightly short yorker away for six, but that’s what he did.

1.44am GMT

49.3 overs: England 296-6 (Buttler 27, Woakes 9)

Nice bowling, after a hideous start to the over. It’s a slower wide yorker, and Buttler prods it straight back to the bowler, who collects and takes a shy at the stumps at his end, where a backing-up Woakes would have been out by a distance had he connected.

1.43am GMT

49.2 overs: England 296-6 (Buttler 27, Woakes 9)

Buttler shuffles to his right and then finds himself too close to the ball, swings uncomfortably and misses it completely.

1.42am GMT

49.1 overs: England 296-6 (Buttler 27, Woakes 9)

Buttler drives a wide, fullish delivery past long off for four!

1.41am GMT

49.1 overs: England 292-6 (Buttler 23, Woakes 9)

Lakmal bowls the final over, and it’s an above-the-waist full-toss, so a no ball, that Buttler thumps away for four.

1.40am GMT

49th over: England 287-6 (Buttler 19, Woakes 9)

Herath bowls, well, and England score in singles, four of them in five balls. The last brings a caught and bowled chance of sorts as Buttler thwacks the ball at full pace back towards him, and it’s all he can do to flick his left hand into the ball’s path. A catch was all-but impossible, such was the pace the ball was travelling, and the contact may well have broken a bone in the bowler’s hand. He leaves the field after a little emergency treatment, and Perera bowls the final ball of the over, which Woakes stretches to divert to the square leg boundary.

1.35am GMT

48th over: England 279-6 (Buttler 17, Woakes 3)

Malinga bowls his final over, and Buttler delightfully dissects the cover fielders to earn four off the first. A couple of singles later Malinga bowls another wide yorker, and it too is hit to the rope, backward of point. No team has scored 279 runs or more in the first innings of a ODI here and failed to win (in five previous games)

1.30am GMT

47th over: England 267-6 (Buttler 7, Woakes 1)

Herath returns, and Sri Lanka have reacted excellently to Perera’s horribly costly over a short while ago, removing the pace on the ball and then Root in swift succession.

1.28am GMT

HawkEye shows the ball just clipping leg stump, and that’s enough to spell the end of an excellent innings from Root, who increasingly looks a one-day batsman of real class and poise.

1.26am GMT

England might as well review it, given the state of play, but their chances aren’t great.

1.24am GMT

46th over: England 264-5 (Root 121, Buttler 5)

Malinga’s penultimate over, and he shows the full repertoire – slow, wide, straight, full, short. One of the latter, first up to Buttler, thwacks the side of his helmet and breaks the ear guard. After a long delay for repairs Malinga tries it again but this time the batsman connects, and pulls for four. “Oh my flaming giddy Aunt Nora!” gasps Marie Meyer, after over 45. “It is like watching how other teams finish their innings!”

1.19am GMT

Malinga gives Taylor some width to slash at and he spears the ball straight to Dilshan to point, where the fielder takes his third catch of the innings. An impressive cameo from Taylor, but the game may well now be decided by how long Root and Buttler can stay together.

1.15am GMT

45th over: England 257-4 (Root 120, Taylor 24)

Wowzers! Taylor takes a couple of steps forward and hoists the ball over square leg for six. That’s a super shot, but when he tries to repeat it by shuffling to his right Perera angles the ball at a worryingly unguarded leg stump and Taylor does well to prod it to safety for a single. That brings Root on to strike, and he reverse hits for four, a little unconvingly, and then does it again, timing it better this time, for six, before clobbering over midwicket for four and finally edging past Sangakkara for another four – that’s a 25-run over, and England suddenly have 300 back in their sights.

1.09am GMT

44th over: England 232-4 (Root 102, Taylor 17)

Taylor takes a sharp single, diving to make his ground and the throw misses the stumps and hits him in the side of the head. Ouch. Root thwacks the next, gentle and wide as it was, over long-on for six, and two deliveries later guides the ball wide of all fielders in the neighbourhood of point for four to reach 100 off his 100th delivery.

1.05am GMT

43rd over: England 219-4 (Root 90, Taylor 16)

Root gives himself some space, and Malinga bowls wide but not too wide on the off side, well out of the repositioned batsman’s reach. That delivery excepted, England get plenty of bat to plenty of ball, but pick out plenty of fielders, and they’d scored just one run before Root diverted the last square of third man for four. Still, the presumed (in Sky’s commentary box) final-10-overs 10-an-over charge to 300+ has not so far materialised.

1.00am GMT

42nd over: England 214-4 (Root 86, Taylor 15)

Mathews returns, and England’s scoring is a little prosaic – five singles is yer lot – but still half-decent, bringing as it does the 50 partnership, achieved off 41 balls.

12.56am GMT

41st over: England 209-4 (Root 84, Taylor 12)

“What’s a good target?” wonders Mark Turner, as Root drives a Lakmal half-volley through cover for four. “Put me down for 270.” These look like near-enough perfect batting conditions, and I’d consider 270 a low but vaguely defensible total.

12.52am GMT

40th over: England 203-4 (Root 78, Taylor 12)

Malinga’s first ball gets the same treatment as Lakmal’s last, being edged for four, this time by Root. Both poor deliveries, and neither was even remotely near getting anyone out. England pass 200 with 10 and a bit overs to spare

12.49am GMT

39th over: England 194-4 (Root 70, Taylor 11)

Lakmal bowls a slow full toss to Root, which flies off his knee and away. He runs a leg bye, diving to be sure of making his ground (he needn’t have worried, the stumps remain undisturbed). He then requires treatment to his sore knee, during which we get Sri Lanka’s comedy review. Taylor edges the final delivery well wide of Sangakkara for four.

12.47am GMT

The ball would have missed leg stump by a foot and a half, Hawkeye reveals. I think that’s the worst review I’ve ever seen.

12.47am GMT

Sri Lanka think so. I don’t think so. The laws of logic, physics and, surely, cricket are against them!

12.43am GMT

38th over: England 188-4 (Root 70, Taylor 6)

The batsmen exchange singles before Root pulls a shorter delivery from Malinga for another four. Otherwise it’s all singles (and a wide). England have (so far) played the powerplays very well indeed, and the rest of their innings very disappointingly. Meanwhile, Shane Warne has taken to Twitter to continue his golfing blather:

A mulligan on the golf course means you can have the shot again. So if your handicap is 11 like mine, you have 11 mulligans. It’s fun…..

12.38am GMT

37th over: England 179-4 (Root 64, Taylor 4)

Perera bowls over two of the powerplay and Root collects another boundary, cutting for a tasty four. His innings is – huzzah! – gathering some impressive momentum now.

12.34am GMT

36th over: England 170-4 (Root 56, Taylor 3)

Herath bowls the first over of the powerplay and probably Root’s finest shot of the day sees him stretch forward to slash the ball past forward square leg for four, low and hard. “One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about following England is the skill of the commentators of talking about all sorts of things while the cricket putters on in the background,” writes Marie Meyer. “Shane Warne is perhaps the worst practitioner of this art I have ever had the misfortune of listening to.” This follows what must go down as Mulligangate, an overlong thesis on potential tweaks to the rules of fourball golf by the enthusiastic but sometimes witless spin maestro. If he didn’t have a producer in his earpiece screaming at him to move the heck on after the first 30 seconds of it, there’s a producer who should be getting a severe dessing-down as well.

12.28am GMT

35th over: England 161-4 (Root 50, Taylor 0)

Morgan had diverted the first ball of Dilshan’s over to third man for two, the final runs of his innings and indeed the over.

12.23am GMT

Morgan cuts the ball viciously but straight to Dilshan, who just about had time to bring his hands to his chest in time to collect it, and England’s captain is on his way back to the pavilion!

12.21am GMT

34th over: England 159-3 (Root 50, Morgan 25)

Drama! Root calls for a couple, but has to dive to get home for the second before the ball is returned to Sangakkara and the bails are removed. The decision is referred to the TV umpire, but with Sri Lanka players waiting for the decision with their heads in their hands, there was little doubt about what it would be. The runs take Root to his half-century, which has taken him 66 deliveries. Morgan’s meanwhile reached a quarter-century from 44.

12.16am GMT

33rd over: England 156-3 (Root 48, Morgan 24)

Malinga’s return lasted only one over, and Perera’s fifth over brings singles off the first delivery and the last.

12.12am GMT

32nd over: England 154-3 (Root 47, Morgan 23)

Herath’s first delivery disappears back over his head, courtesy of Morgan, for four, who in so doing brings up England’s 150 and the 50 partnership. Three singles and a leg bye make this a pretty satisfactory over for England.

12.09am GMT

31st over: England 146-3 (Root 45, Morgan 18)

Malinga comes back, and bowls a bouncer that flies down the leg side. The umpire’s arms remain by his side, inexplicably – that was a textbook wide. Just the one off the over. A beautiful one, though, pulled by Morgan with great ferocity, but straight to deep midwicket.

12.04am GMT

30th over: England 145-3 (Root 45, Morgan 17)

Herath returns, and Root sweeps the first ball past square leg for four, and then chops into the ground and over his stumps for a single.

12.01am GMT

29th over: England 139-3 (Root 40, Morgan 16)

A six! Morgan sweeps the ball high into the stands, and the PA immediately exhorts the audience to “throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying ayeoh, gotta let go”. And for a moment, I’m half tempted. “Don’t blame the dog,” pleads Mr Dresner. “It has never been harder for anyone not from public school to get acting roles. They have to take any ad work they can get.”

11.58pm GMT

28th over: England 130-3 (Root 38, Morgan 9)

A boundary! A lucky boundary, but hey, they all count. Root tries to slash the ball past point but inside-edges past his stumps and Sangakkara and away to the rope. “Actually, I think the dachshund is highly representative of English cricket,” counters Clive Britcher. “Slouched back on the couch, back foot, leave it if it’s not straight, negative attitude …”

11.56pm GMT

27th over: England 123-3 (Root 32, Morgan 8)

Three more singles. And television viewers have just been treated to a shot of people buying pies.

11.52pm GMT

26th over: England 120-3 (Root 30, Morgan 7)

Another two singles. The first eight overs: 61-0, 7.63 an over. The next 18 overs: 59 runs, 3.28 an over. Meanwhile, whoever’s directing today’s coverage seems obsessed with the process of vending. We’ve had between-deliveries cutaways to people buying shirts, people buying sausages, and people buying chips. So there’s a range of retail outlets around the ground, we get it, move on.

11.48pm GMT

25th over: England 118-3 (Root 29, Morgan 6)

Another over, another two singles. So we’re (at least) halfway through England’s innings, and thoughts start to turn to the definition of a par score on this pitch. Considerably more than 118×2, for a start. The outfield seems zippy enough, the boundaries aren’t offputtingly long, there’s no swing to be seen – 290ish, I’d guess.

11.45pm GMT

24th over: England 116-3 (Root 28, Morgan 5)

Perera bowls to Root. Five dots, and then a single. “Whoever the advertising wonk was who dreamt up that insurance ‘spot’ punctuating the coverage on Sky should be shot,” writes Kieron Shaw. “The one with the dismal dachshund on a sofa who sleeps through the cricket and can’t wait for it to be over. What were they thinking? First rule of marketing: Don’t mock your customer. Second rule: Don’t mock the programme whose coat-tails you’re riding. Third rule: Lugubrious dogs watching cricket aren’t in any way synonymous with life insurance.” He does seem to hate cricket, that dog, which is unfortunate.

11.41pm GMT

23rd over: England 115-3 (Root 27, Morgan 5)

Root pulls and the ball flies off the top edge towards – but not actually to – fine leg. He survives, runs two, and then chops the next wide of third man for four.

11.37pm GMT

22nd over: England 108-3 (Root 20, Morgan 5)

Another three singles. “The absolute last thing I want to see right now is Alex Hales being brought into this team,” writes Erik Petersen. “They need to go home, figure out exactly what it is about team culture that makes young players tank, fix it, then bring in Hales. Bringing him into this side right now would be like taking a promising young guitarist and dropping him into the current version of Guns n’ Roses.” I’ve got some sympathy for this, which would I guess see Bopara promoted instead.

11.34pm GMT

21st over: England 105-3 (Root 18, Morgan 4)

Morgan’s first boundary is pleasingly punched to the long-off boundary. “Your comment advising Ballance to keep ‘trotting’ one of the most gratuitously cruel have read in an OBO,” writes Tony Whitley. “He was picked by those who know his recent form. The way he plays for England is so at odds with his confident bullocking for Yorkshire that perhaps one should look at England team management here. Straight talking is good, sneering not so.” I’ll take your point, and the issue in the end is with the selectors rather than the player, but I can’t see a sensible argument for keeping Ballance in this team at this point.

11.29pm GMT

Bell’s gone! Half of his innings was brilliantly fluent, the other half was frustratingly slow, and now it’s over, after he edged the ball into his pads, and his pads diverted the ball onto the stumps!

11.27pm GMT

20th over: England 100-2 (Bell 49, Root 17)

Herath bowls his first over of the day, and England keep the scoreboard churning and bring up triple figures with a single off every ball. So that’s England going at a mathematically- if not entirely sportingly-pleasing five an over on the nose in the first 20 overs.

11.24pm GMT

19th over: England 94-2 (Bell 46, Root 14)

Lakmal’s back. Root scoops the ball into the air over square leg, but it’s totally safe and he scurries a single, the first of four in the over.

11.20pm GMT

18th over: England 90-2 (Bell 44, Root 12)

11.13pm GMT

17th over: England 88-2 (Bell 43, Root 11)

Five singles off Dilshan’s over, and after all that running about everyone needs a good drink. And they’re getting one, and all.

11.11pm GMT

16th over: England 83-2 (Bell 40, Root 9)

Mathews bowls, and Root gets his first boundary of the day, with a fine cover drive. The cover drive is a very England ODI shot. Very technical, classical, mannered. Anyway, that’s all the scoring for this over. “What on earth is wrong with these English batsmen? They were 60-odd for no wicket, then they decided to play Test cricket instead of attacking Mathews and Dilshan,” rages Clive Britcher. “Creeping back into the crease, timid, negative. Ballance, for me, should never be in the side; they need Hales, who can be explosive, to destroy the Sri Lankan confidence.” They could do with Hales, but before they’re genuinely competitive in this format it seems they need to go home and spend six months having their arses kicked and their mindsets comprehensively altered.

11.06pm GMT

15th over: England 79-2 (Bell 40, Root 5)

So England did splendidly well against Sr Lanka’s speedy opening bowlers, and have done hopelessly badly against the slower stuff. Three singles off Dilshan’s latest. Since the first ball of over eight there has been one boundary. “There can’t be many worse selections in history than bringing Ballance into the World Cup team,” writes John Beaven. “Even Aleister Crowley for Pope would have been much more successful.”

11.03pm GMT

14th over: England 76-2 (Bell 39, Root 3)

Root edges to first slip! Jayawardene didn’t hold it, low – very low – to his left. So it could have been worse for England, but that’s another over gone and just two runs added to the total – and one of those was a wide.

10.59pm GMT

13th over: England 74-2 (Bell 39, Root 2)

“If Bell is the Sledgehammer of Eternal Justice, or whatever, then Ballance must be the Hacksaw of Impending Doom?” suggests Simon McMahon, as Root and Bell trade singles following his departure. Since the end of over eight England have taken 1, 0, 2, 6, 4, for 13 from five overs at 2.6 an over.

10.56pm GMT

Well taken! Ballance mistimes his shot and hits the ball with a thick inside edge off the bottom of his bat, and it heads straight back up the pitch where Dilshan stoops to his left to collect. Off he trots! And, frankly, when he gets back to the dressing room he should keep on trotting, ideally until he’s on a different land mass entirely.

10.54pm GMT

12th over: England 70-1 (Bell 38, Ballance 6)

Ballance gets a boundary! Oh yes he does! It’s a push through the covers that just outsprints the nearest fielder to the rope. He also picks out point twice when given some width. Still, he got a boundary!

10.51pm GMT

11th over: England 64-1 (Bell 37, Ballance 1)

Dilshan continues, and each batsman scores a single. Ballance has looked unusually awkward so far, with eight deliveries faced and one scored.

10.47pm GMT

10th over: England 62-1 (Bell 36, Ballance 0)

Ali attempts to send Mathews’ first delivery steepling over long on for six, and then sends his second looping to mid off. And so, Gary Ballance. He lets four medium-pace dibbly-dobblers bounce harmlessly past without offering a stroke, leaving Mathews with a wicket maiden and England fans scratching their heads. Surely he can’t survive if he fluffs his lines again here. Surely.

10.45pm GMT

Gah! Ali chips the ball straight to mid-off, presenting his wicket to Sri Lanka all gift-wrapped with a ribbon tied in a lovely bow on the top, and England’s promising start is over!

10.42pm GMT

9th over: England 62-0 (Ali 15, Bell 36)

Dilshan comes in, having previously had some joy against Ali. There’s a slip and a leg slip for both batsmen, who between them take no risks and score one run.

The 28 conceded by Lakmal is the most conceded by an opening bowler in his first two overs v England in an ODI (since 1999).

10.40pm GMT

8th over: England 61-0 (Ali 14, Bell 36)

Crikey, Bell is absolutely unrecognisable from his frustrating, scratchy innings against Scotland. But lumme, the lad has also had some luck, just about evading fielders on a couple of occasions, dropped once, and then after thrashing Mathews’ first delivery through cover for four, seeing the ball fly between bat and pad, just past the stumps, past Sangakkara and away to the rope. “Pheew! England have survived the first five overs and the run rate is healthy albeit slightly streaky from Bell,” writes Harvey Lock. Totally agree. “Please please, no sudden collapses in the middle overs!!!” he continues. Totally agree. “This is promising to be a very exiting match.” Totally agree.

10.35pm GMT

7th over: England 51-0 (Ali 13, Bell 31)

Malinga continues, and Bell thumps the third delivery past mid-on, and when that’s followed by a wide England have 50, off 39 balls. A single later, Ali deals with a high, slow full-toss and the day’s first bouncer without scoring. And here, incidentally, is the choke-mime of the week:

10.29pm GMT

6th over: England 45-0 (Ali 13, Bell 26)

Angelo Mathews brings himself on first change, and Bell hoiks him over cover, high enough for the ball to land with a thud and basically stop moving, so giving the batsman just a couple of runs. A single later Ali has one ball to face, and he waves his bat at it unconvincingly on its way past.

10.25pm GMT

5th over: England 42-0 (Ali 13, Bell 23)

Malinga fires up his yorker radar – his yorkdar, if you will – and Ali does pretty well just to survive the first few deliveries. It’s a great over, at least until the final delivery – again full of length, but this time a little wide, and Ali guides it through the covers for four.

10.21pm GMT

4th over: England 38-0 (Ali 9, Bell 23)

10.16pm GMT

3rd over: England 19-0 (Ali 9, Bell 9)

A sharp intake of breath as Bell hits Malinga into the air, but the ball zips just wide of the diving Dilshan at point and flies away for four, and the edges the next wide of second slip – entirely along the ground, mind – for another. “How exciting is this? Saturday night, glass if wine, World Cup cricket on the telly,” enthuses Matt Fordham. “Here’s hoping for a Moeen special.” I’m not fussy, me. Any kind of special will do. Just give me special.

10.11pm GMT

2nd over: England 10-0 (Ali 9, Bell 0)

Lakmal doubles England’s score with a legside full toss, and then Ali gets the day’s first boundary by pushing the ball through the covers, and guides the next to the rope at long on, both shots exemplars of the potential of timing over power. The bowler is then warned for running on the pitch, all before he’s halfway through the over. The second half is entirely action-free.

10.05pm GMT

1st over: England 1-0 (Ali 1, Bell 0)

Malinga, whose first over against New Zealand went for nine and who in that match was later smacked about fairly embarrassingly by McCullum, who scored 22 off one over – so Finn’s in good company, I suppose – starts and Ali takes a single.

10.00pm GMT

Wishing @ECB_cricket all the best.

Well that’s very sporting of him. Saqlain Mushtaq, incidentally, is reigning world champion at cheesy-grin-on-website-homepage.

9.58pm GMT

The anthems are over, and cricket is now imminent. Deep breath.

If England’s batting does not fire today, they will really have to at least consider making some changes for the 2019 World Cup. #EngvSL

9.57pm GMT

We’re mid-anthems here. Sri Lanka’s is hilariously long and jolly, like the 12” remix of the Rainbow theme tune.

9.52pm GMT

The good news is that England, after solid work in training, are finally getting the hang of this white ball business. The bad news … well …

9.46pm GMT

Top home-grown track in Sri Lanka, according to Yes FM. This at least sounds like it was made in the last 30 years.

9.35pm GMT

Currently No1 in Sri Lanka, according to music.lk. Pharrell Williams can relax, I fear.

9.34pm GMT

And they are, as expected, unchanged. “Similar to the other day, it looks a really good wicket. The sun’s out,” says Eoin Morgan. “Hopefully the Scotland game will give us a bit of momentum today.”

Angelo Mathews says he too would have batted first. His team, too, is unchanged. “We played some good cricket in the last time and hopefully that’ll continue.”

England team to play Sri Lanka: Ali, Bell, Ballance, Root, Morgan (C), Taylor, Buttler, Woakes, Broad, Finn, Anderson #EngvSL #CWC15

9.24pm GMT

Hello world!

So, England v Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka have won seven of the last 10 ODIs between the sides, most of them pretty handsomely, and boast a reputation for limited-overs crickets that England can only covet enviously. The hope is that England will continue to grow into this competition, which given the quality of their first couple of performances should be a straightforward enough task, though they remain a very long way indeed from full-on flowering. The assumption is that they will remain unchanged today, though many would like to see Gary Ballance, for example, have himself a little sit-down while a little middle-order explosiveness is prioritised. Sri Lanka meanwhile may well be revelling in second place in the pool, but they’ve not been enormously convincing either, particularly in their tournament-opening defeat by New Zealand, and are at least potentially beatable.

9.24pm GMT

Simon Burnton will be with you shortly. In the meantime you can enjoy Mike Selvey’s preview of a match crucial to England’s hopes of progressing to the World Cup quarter-finals:

Such is the nature of this World Cup that, theoretically at least, England and Sri Lanka play a match that neither really should need to win to progress to the quarter-finals. But anyone who has been watching the sterling performances being put in so far by Ireland, Afghanistan and Scotland will understand that those nations below the top eight no longer represent the free points they once did. There has been a shift: this is a match neither side will even want to contemplate losing.

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