Chandimal steers Sri Lanka home
Dinesh Chandimal struck an unbeaten century to guide Sri Lanka to a six-wicket victory over England in the third NatWest Series one-day international at Lord’s.
After England set the tourists 247 to win following Alastair Cook‘s second one-day century, Mahela Jayawardene and Chandimal countered the early loss of captain Tillakaratne Dilshan with a 122-run second-wicket partnership that set the platform for Sri Lanka’s comfortable victory.
Jayawardene finally went for a 77-ball 79 and Kumar Sangakkara fell for 26, but Chandimal’s impressive 105 not out off 126 balls saw Sri Lanka home with 10 balls remaining - despite Angelo Mathews turning down singles to allow Chandimal to reach three figures.
Cook’s 119 off 143 deliveries was the mainstay of the England innings as they lost wickets at regular intervals.
England, who saw Craig Kieswetter and Jonathan Trott dismissed cheaply, were wobbling at 85 for four after leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis claimed the vital wickets of Kevin Pietersen, for a fluent 41, and Eoin Morgan.
However, Cook, along with 30 from Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan’s 26, saw England to a more respectable 246 for seven on a reliable surface.
After an unchanged England won the toss and elected to bat, Cook started brightly, timing the ball superbly, and struck three crunching fours in as many overs.
Kieswetter played watchfully before he chipped a Lasith Malinga slower ball to Suranga Lakmal at mid-on.
In the following over, Cook edged an away-swinging Nuwan Kulasekara delivery to first slip, but Jayawardene, who scored 144 at Headingley Carnegie on Friday, dropped him at a comfortable height.
Cook continued to find the boundary, timing the ball impressively through the off side off Kulasekara, but, with the pressure building, Trott drove Lakmal straight to Dilshan at mid-off to depart for two.
Cook saw another edge land just short of Jayawardene at slip, but Pietersen immediately looked comfortable against Lakmal, hitting him for three fours in the 12th over.
In looking to continue his onslaught, he top-edged a sweep off Mendis to Suraj Randiv at deep midwicket, and Morgan was trapped in front trying to work Mendis to leg.
Cook continued to hold the innings together alongside Bell, and both were happy taking singles until the latter uppercut a Lakmal bouncer to Kulasekara at third man.
Cook survived an lbw appeal from Lakmal - the ball pitched outside leg stump - before reaching his century off 127 balls with a push down the ground off Randiv.
He was given another life in the 46th over when he sliced Malinga to third man, where a diving Thilina Kandamby grassed the opportunity.
Cook provided some lusty blows but was run out attempting to run a bye to Sangakkara.
In the final over from Malinga, Bresnan played on via pad before Graeme Swann launched the paceman for six over square-leg and edged for four to third man.
In reply, Bresnan made the important breakthrough for England in the fourth over when he bowled Dilshan for three with a ball that nipped away to hit off stump.
Jayawardene responded with some crunching strokes as Sri Lanka raced to 50 inside nine overs, before bringing up his own half-century off just 45 balls with a quick single off the aggressive Stuart Broad.
Chandimal also took the attack to the England seamers as he spectacularly pulled James Anderson to the midwicket boundary and flicked Jade Dernbach over his shoulder for four.
A frustrated Broad continued to assault Chandimal with the short ball, with Cook quick to insert a short-leg, but he showed no signs of vulnerability and, in the following over, responded by thrashing Dernbach through midwicket for four.
England struck in the 24th over when Jayawardene was caught at point by Eoin Morgan after flashing hard at Dernbach.
A defiant Chandimal brought up his fifty in 73 balls with a flick into the leg side off Bresnan before Sangakkara chipped Swann to Morgan at cover.
Chandimal started to show some intent with a huge six over midwicket off Anderson and then edged to the vacant third-man boundary as he searched for a ton.
Swann trapped Kandamby in front for 11 and, after Mathews scored just one off 21 balls during a farcical climax, Chandimal smashed Bresnan over long-on for six to bring up his century before firing a four over cover to seal victory and give Sri Lanka a 2-1 series lead.