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03 December 201417:55

Root, Buttler fashion England victory

Visitors stay afloat with five-wicket win on D/L method as Sri Lanka lose the plot with ball and in the field

Root, Buttler fashion England victory - Cricket News

Buttler and Root share unbeaten 84-run stand to take England to a five-wicket win.

There wasn't an iota of doubt that England was under immense pressure coming into Wednesday’s (December 3) third One-Day International against Sri Lanka. Since reaching the final of the Champions Trophy in June 2013, the team hardly had anything in the bag as far as 50-over cricket was concerned. Defeat in the first two games of the seven-match series meant this game in Hambantota was critical in many ways.

As if that wasn't challenging enough, Sri Lanka posted a competitive 242 for 8 courtesy Kumar Sangakkara (63) and Lahiru Thirimanne (62). The hosts had opted to bat but a lengthy spell of rain very early in its innings curtailed this to a 35-overs-a-side fixture. With the series fast slipping away, England, set a revised Duckworth-Lewis target of 236, needed someone to stand up and deliver.

On the night, the stars were aligned in its favour, if only just, as England overcame an implosion to win by five wickets, courtesy an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 84 off just 64 balls between Jos Buttler (55) and Joe Root (48). Despite the loss, Sri Lanka hold a 2-1 lead with four to play.

Moeen Ali and Alastair Cook gave England a dream start, adding 84 in just 11.3 overs before Dhammika Prasad drew first blood. Cook, who made 34, feathered an edge to Sangakkara. But that seemed to have little effect on Ali, who simply continued to toy with the bowling, stroking the ball over the infield with ridiculous ease. He struck two fours and five sixes in his 40-ball 56 as England were well ahead of the asking rate.

But what looked like a cruise came to a grinding halt as Sri Lanka struck back with four wickets for next to nothing. Ali was the first to go when he nearly ran the length of the pitch twice, only to see Alex Hales (27) turn his back on him. To add insult to injury, Hales, who was given a reprieve on 20, failed to make hay and holed out to mid-on in his quest to clear the infield in the 22nd over.

In the next over, Ravi Bopara (6) was caught brilliantly down leg by Sangakkara, who anticipated a lap sweep, while Eoin Morgan (1) top-edged a pull to Thisara Perera four balls later. Within the bat of an eyelid, England was on a freefall, having slipped from 144 for 2 to 152 for 5.

Realising the importance of taking the game down to the last five overs, Buttler and Root milked the bowling without taking undue risks before teeing off. With 50 needed off five overs, Buttler first unleashed a fierce cut for four against Ajantha Mendis, followed by a pull o the deep midwicket fence to put the pressure back on Sri Lanka.

The first ball off the next over, bowled by Prasad, was paddled by Root over fine-leg for six. Root was also a beneficiary of some luck as he was caught off a no-ball in an over that went for 21 runs to tilt the scales decisively. England eventually won with 8 balls to spare.

Earlier in the piece, Sangakkara became only the fourth batsman in history to surpass 13,000 ODI runs when he took a single off Chris Woakes to move to 13. He celebrated the milestone by top-scoring with 63. Angelo Mathews also continued his rich vein of form to make an important 37, in the process adding 87 for the fourth wicket with Sangakkara after Sri Lanka was tottering at 31 for 3 inside the sixth over.

The foundation laid by the two senior colleagues allowed Thirimanne to tee off at the end, as Sri Lanka clobbered 62 off the back five. But on the night, lapses in the field and poor death bowling proved costly for the hosts.

Please click here to see the full scorecard of Sri Lanka v England in Hambantota.