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Bopara plays a big one

April 5, 2007
Sri Lanka took a big step towards a slot in the semi-finals and dented England's hopes of qualifying with a nail-biting two-run victory in their World Cup Super Eights match on Wednesday.

Ravi Bopara, in only his fifth one-day international, played a matured innings and nearly took England to victory, but his dismissal off the final ball of the match handed the Sri Lankans victory.

Replying to Sri Lankaís 235 all out, England looked like pulling off victory after Ravi Bopara (52 off 53 balls) and Paul Nixon (42 off 44) put up a partnership of 87 runs to rally the team from a precarious 133 for 6.

Wicketkeeper Nixon, who smashed a reverse sweep six off Muttiah Muralitharan, was dismissed in the penultimate over and it looked like England's hopes were nearly over.

But Bopara kept his team in the hunt, hitting two boundaries off the next two balls that he faced.

England needed three of the final delivery, but the 21-year-old was bowled by Dilhara Fernando to seal the match for Sri Lanka.

Even though his team lost, Bopara was named the man of the match for his fighting knock, which kept everyone glued to their seats till the last ball. And it may well boost Englandís morale as they square up against Australia on Sunday, a match they cannot afford to lose.

Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene's side had looked short of a good total after four wickets from Sajid Mahmood and three from Andrew Flintoff had restricted them to 235 all out.

Sri Lanka have six points while England only two, and now face a tough task of making it among the top four in the Super Eights.

Photograph: Getty Images

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