England levelled the NatWest Series to set up a decider at Old Trafford with a resounding ten-wicket win under the Duckworth/Lewis Method in favourable conditions.
Score: Sri Lanka 174 in 43.4 overs (Sangakkara 75, Anderson 3-24, Dernbach 3-38) lost to England 171-0 in 23.5 overs (Cook 95*, Kieswetter 72*) by 10 wickets (D/L Method). Series level 2-2 Full scorecard
Captain Alastair Cook, who was five short of a second consecutive century, and Craig Kieswetter sealed a crushing win with an unbroken opening stand of 171, England’s highest partnership for any wicket against Sri Lanka in this form of cricket.
England’s win was only their fourth ten-wicket victory in one-day international cricket. It was sealed by their batsmen but set up by their seamers inside the first hour after Sri Lanka slumped to 20 for four on a Trent Bridge greentop prepared to order for them.
It would have been an even more one-sided contest but for Kumar Sangakkara’s composed 75 in conditions that were alien to Sri Lanka. But Sri Lanka were still dismissed with 38 balls of their 50 overs unused and England, who also felt at home in cool and showery weather, reached a revised target of 171 in 48 overs with half of their overs unused.
Winning emphatically in these conditions is one thing. England have yet to prove that they are as effective in hotter climates and on dry pitches when spin rather than swing dominates and batsmen need to cash in during the powerplays.
England had laboured through their batting powerplays in the previous three matches of the series but they could not be faulted here. Cook had ignored calls for changes to be made to the side that lost at Headingley and Lord’s and led from the front with a boundary-laden innings.
Cook rattled to his 50 from 37 balls – his fastest in one-day internationals – with ten fours and added six more in a fluent 75-ball innings. He was denied his century only because Kieswetter clobbered Nuwan Kulasekera for his third six to level the scores before trotting the winning single.
Kieswetter initially thrashed around to no obvious effect but then found his touch to devastating effect. He reached his third one-day international 50 with a pulled six off Suraj Randiv and cleared the boundary twice more in his unbeaten 72 from 68 balls.
It was too one-sided to be much of a spectacle for a near-full house crowd who had Anderson to blame for the lack of tension and spectacle.
Anderson took three for 14 in his first 27 balls, swinging the ball both ways in conditions that all but Sangakkara and, to a lesser extent, Angelo Mathews managed to master.
Sangakkara showed the technique and temperament required to survive in these conditions but there was precious little support for him until Mathews arrived to lead a counter-attack in a sixth wicket stand of 72.
Mathews plonked Jade Dernbach and Stuart Broad for sixes but when Tim Bresnan held a low return catch, Sangakkara was left to fight on his own.
Shot of the day: Angelo Mathews. A beautifully timed straight six on the up off Jade Dernbach.
Catch of the day: Tim Bresnan’s low return catch to dismiss Mathews. Bresnan dived forward, grasped the ball between his right middle and index fingers and his thumb and held on when his arm jarred against the ground.
Stat of the day: James Anderson became the leading wicket-taker in one-day international cricket at Trent Bridge with his early three-wicket haul. Anderson has now taken 13 wickets in six matches at Trent Bridge, one more than Pakistan’s Waqar Younis who took 12 in three appearances at the ground.
Twits of the day: The two former England cricketers – no names, no pack drill – who held up play at the start of England’s innings by moving around in the press box.
Verdict: Alastair Cook: “It was an outstanding effort from the moment we were lucky enough to win the toss.
“The way we bowled was fantastic and we put Sri Lanka under a lot of pressure. But it was a good pitch and I don’t think it did as much as Sri Lanka thought it would.
“I give a lot of credit to Steve Birks, the head groundsman here, for leaving a bit of grass on the pitch. We proved it was a good pitch by knocking off the runs without losing a wicket.”