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Cricket: Shah steps up to lift England's bid for series.

Byline: By Myles Hodgson

Paul collingwood has warned that England's first win in Sri Lanka for 25 years will mean nothing if his side do not go on and win the five-match one-day series. Last night's 65-run victory at the Rangiri International Stadium was England's first one-day victory on Sri Lankan soil since Ian Botham inspired their only previous win back in 1982.

But despite their efforts in bouncing back from an opening match trouncing, captain Collingwood stressed only a series triumph would satisfy his demands.

Asked about the historic win, Collingwood insisted, "I'm not really that interested in that - we've got a series to win out here and there's no point coming out here and only winning one game.

"We want to come out here and win a series. Tonight we set the benchmark, we set the standards we want to keep for the rest of the series and go even higher if possible because I know Sri Lanka will bounce back hard and we have to be better every time we go on to the pitch.

"Tonight was exceptional, we've put in a special performance and there was a lot of hard work put in the nets and talking about the game and where we could improve. To take it on to the field so quickly is a special thing.

"It shows they are fast learners, but it's only one game and we've set the standards in this game but we want to keep on improving and go on and win the series."

Despite slumping to 61 for four after winning the toss and batting first, England reached a competitive 234 for eight after man-of-the-match Owais Shah hit a determined 82 off 92 balls.

England then dismissed Sri Lanka's talented line-up for 169 with Ryan Sidebottom claiming two early wickets as they slumped to 38 for four and despite an unbeaten 44 from Jehan Mubarak were not able to get close to their victory target.

"It was fantastic to bounce back the way we did. It showed a lot of character. We've done a lot of talking since the last game about where we could have improved and we did improve tonight," said Collingwood.

"To get a performance in like that after what was a very tough opening game proves to me there's a lot of character in that dressing room and they fought really hard.

"For the bowlers to bowl slower balls more often after only a couple of days of practising them in the nets and really nailing them and the skill from Owais Shah to get 82 on a pitch like that against their kind of bowlers is exciting for the future."

Disappointed Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene conceded, "England played some really good cricket today and we got some early wickets to have them on the ropes, but the way Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah batted during that period changed the game.

"We thought 230 would be a good score to chase on this wicket because we've done it twice before under lights here, but losing early wickets didn't help the cause."

Unable to take advantage of the early powerplays after the loss of their top four inside the first 19 overs, the responsibility was left to the middle order to try and propel their side to a challenging total.

Unlike Monday evening, when England were dismissed for 150 by playing cricket far too aggressive for the conditions, this time they paced themselves perfectly, with Shah and captain Collingwood happy to keep the scoreboard ticking over instead of looking for boundaries.

At one stage, the pair went 11 overs without a boundary during a 78-run stand off 99 balls before Collingwood broke the deadlock by hitting two fours off the left-arm spin of Sanath Jayasuriya, who was making his 400th one-day international appearance.

Collingwood perished playing across the line to seamer Dilhara Fernando and was given lbw for a determined 42 off 50 balls and Ravi Bopara fell in the next over, bowled around his legs attempting an unorthodox shot too early in his innings.

But Shah, favourite to be included as the spare batsman in the Test squad for Sri Lanka to be announced in the next few weeks, found the perfect tempo. Giving enthusiastic support from Graeme Swann, once again preferred to Monty Panesar for the extra batting he provides, the pair added a crucial 70 off 69 balls to take England past the 200-barrier and give them a chance of causing an upset. Shah was out in the final over, brilliantly caught at mid-off by Chamara Silva after hitting five boundaries in his innings, but by then his impact had been felt.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 5, 2007
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