Magical Mahela sinks England
Mahela Jayawardene’s magnificent 144 ultimately proved the difference as Sri Lanka levelled the NatWest Series with a 69-run triumph over England at Headingley Carnegie.
The 34-year-old, playing the 343rd one-day international of his distinguished career, surpassed his previous highest score of 128 to help the tourists post a mammoth 309 for five after they had been asked to bat first by Alastair Cook.
Jayawardene did survive an early scare when he was dropped on seven by Graeme Swann at slip. However, from that point on he combined intelligent rotation of the strike with a number of elegant boundaries, including several delicate late cuts off England’s seamers, who, with the exception of James Anderson, all proved expensive.
Kumar Sangakkara contributed 69 in a third-wicket stand of 159 that helped Sri Lanka recover from a shaky start, while Angelo Mathews added a valuable unbeaten 46 from just 30 balls.
Eoin Morgan top-scored with a typically entertaining 52 as England initially made a decent fist of their chase, but his departure sparked an ultimately terminal collapse from 201 for four to 240 all out with 4.1 overs unused.
Morgan was one of three batsmen to fall victim to the off-spin of Suraj Randiv, who, along with Suranga Lakmal, recorded figures of 3-43.
Sri Lanka’s total was all the more impressive given they lost skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal to near-identical run-outs inside the opening 10 overs.
Dilshan fell for just nine when, in the fifth over, he looked to steal a single off Anderson to mid-on and was beaten by Stuart Broad’s direct hit.
Jayawardene was fortunate not to be dismissed five balls later when a leaping Swann failed to hang on to a difficult high chance off Bresnan.
A second edge dropped short of Swann and bounced away for four, before Chandimal, who replaced Sanath Jayasuriya in the only change to either line-up, was run out when he attempted the riskiest of singles off Broad’s first ball and failed to beat Anderson as he swooped from mid-on.
With Sangakkara slow to find his feet, Sri Lanka added just 16 runs in the subsequent bowling powerplay, which was taken at the earliest opportunity.
From then on, however, it was relatively plain sailing for the batsmen and Jayawardene brought up an elegant fifty with a late cut off Jade Dernbach, whom he then pulled for four.
A run-rate in the region of five an over was maintained without undue risk, although Sangakkara did march down the track to loft Broad through mid-on in the 26th over.
The 100 partnership arrived soon after, from 126 deliveries, and Sangakkara then moved to a fifty of his own by glancing Kevin Pietersen to fine-leg for his fifth four.
A delicate cut off the returning Anderson took Jayawardene to 97 before he reached three figures by chipping Bresnan to long-on for a single.
However, England did have a moment of cheer when Sangakkara walked past a Swann delivery that turned sharply and was stumped.
An increasingly aggressive Jayawardene was given a second life when a flying Cook spilled a tough chance at cover. He took advantage by surpassing his previous best, achieved against India at Sharjah in 2000.
With the powerful Mathews also finding the fence with regularity, Sri Lanka added 59 in the batting powerplay, taken at the beginning of the 41st over.
A fourth-wicket stand of 67 in 48 balls ended when Jayawardene was beaten by an arm ball from Swann.
Nuwan Kulasekara, who was also dropped by Swann, fell in the penultimate over when he top-edged a pull off Bresnan to Pietersen at deep square-leg, but Mathews’ fine cameo – together with a late six from Jeevan Mendis - maintained Sri Lanka’s momentum.
Dilshan opted to open the bowling when England began their reply, but the off-spinner saw his second over disappear for 14 as Cook and Craig Kieswetter lofted down the ground for four and six respectively.
Sri Lanka kept a lid on the scoring rate thereafter, however, and made a valuable breakthrough when Kieswetter, on 25, pulled Lakmal straight to Kulasekara.
Cook continued to look in good touch – emphasised by a deft scoop for four off Kulasekara – but fell two runs short of a half-century when a cover-drive off Randiv found Mathews.
Pietersen swept Randiv for six over midwicket to move into double figures, but he too departed when another attempted big hit, this time off Mendis, was caught by a diving Malinga at long-on.
When Jonathan Trott, who played a number of authoritative strokes en route to 39, was yorked by Lakmal in the 28th over, England’s hopes appeared to be fading.
Consecutive Morgan sixes over midwicket off Mendis helped the diminutive left-hander, who was dropped by Randiv off his own bowling on 25, move to 50 from just 37 balls.
However, Sangakkara then produced a sharp piece of glovework to stump Morgan after he had been beaten by appreciable turn from Randiv – and England duly subsided.
Bresnan swiftly followed when he holed out to Chandimal at midwicket in Randiv’s next over and Broad became the fourth batsman in the match to be stumped when he pushed forward to Mendis.
Ian Bell made 35 before chipping tamely to short fine-leg off Kulasekara and Anderson failed to keep out a yorker from Malinga before Jade Dernbach holed out to long-off to give Lakmal his third wicket.