England’s progress to the quarter-finals was unconvincing, involving a succession of improbably tight finishes against allcomers in Group B.
That was not remotely the case at the Premadasa Stadium as openers Dilshan (108 not out) and Tharanga (102 not out) each hit irresistible hundreds in an unbroken stand of 231 to power their team to victory with more than 10 overs to spare.
England had twice defended apparently sub-par totals to scramble the points required in their stuttering campaign, but at no point did they look remotely likely to repeat the dose under lights against the co-hosts.
Jonathan Trott (86) continued his prolific individual campaign, making himself the tournament’s highest runscorer so far to underpin England’s 229 for six.
But Tharanga and Dilshan made a mockery of the transient notion that an awkward chase was in the offing as the 2007 finalists booked a semi-final with New Zealand at the same venue on Tuesday.
For England, there were unwelcome echoes of a similar hammering against the same opponents at the same stage of the competition at Faisalabad in 1996, when Sri Lanka went on to win their maiden ICC CWC.
Minus at least two first-choice bowling options because of injury, England again simply could not contain the Sri Lankans, who found the ropes 22 times and cleared them three more.
That proved it was not necessary on the slow surface to bat like Trott, who nonetheless served England well with a typically hard-working 115-ball effort.
By contrast, Tharanga announced himself by carving Tim Bresnan’s off-side width for an early four and then advancing to cover Graeme Swann’s spin and hit him commandingly straight for six.
One early mis-pull from Dilshan off Bresnan marginally cleared midwicket for a lucky single, while first-change Chris Tremlett disconcerted the same batsman with some inswing.
Both the openers had minor scares off James Tredwell but apart from a half-chance for a caught-and-bowled by Tremlett when Tharanga had 58, Sri Lanka’s progress was swift and seamless.