Veteran batsman hits poignant ton before Senanayake, Lakmal guide Sri Lanka to 90-run win over England
Kumar Sangakkara’s 20th One-Day International century, and seven wickets between Sachithra Senanayake and Suranga Lakmal helped Sri Lanka beat England by 90 runs in the sixth match of the seven-match series at Pallekele International Stadium on Saturday (December 13).
Sangakkara’s run-a-ball 112, after being dropped by Alastair Cook on 41, in his last international match in his hometown of Kandy set up the match perfectly for a series-winning victory, and the bowlers responded with a commanding display to bowl out England for 202 in 41.3 overs.
England’s chase of 292 got off to an unhappy start as Senanayake trapped Cook in front of the wicket in the third ball of the innings.
Tillakaratne Dilshan then dismissed Moeen Ali for the third time in the series, this time caught behind for a 32-ball 34. That brought James Taylor and Joe Root, England’s two best batsmen on tour, together at the crease.
Having forged partnerships of 93 and 104 in the previous two matches, expectations were high but Taylor couldn't get going as Senanayake bowled him with an arm ball.
The game’s decisive moment arrived in the 18th over when Lakmal and Sangakkara combined to send Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan off successive deliveries.
Jos Buttler denied Lakmal a hat-trick and tried to revive the innings with Root, but it only fetched them 39 runs before a brilliant direct hit from Lahiru Thirimanne curtailed Buttler's innings.
Chris Woakes played his shots but once Root became Lakmal’s third victim of the day, bowled for 55 trying to play a scoop, Sri Lanka was ahead.
Jordan gave Sangakkara his fourth catch behind the stumps as Lakmal, playing his first competitive match since July after recovering from an injury to his left ankle, reaped excellent figures of 4 for 30.
Woakes soon offered a return catch to Dilshan, Sri Lanka’s best bowler of the series along with Ajantha Mendis with nine wickets thus far. He then held on to an easy catch at mid-on to send James Tredwell back as Senanayake brought an end to the proceedings.
Earlier in the day, Sangakkara stamped his class after Sri Lanka’s attempt to try out Mahela Jayawardene as an opener backfired. Dilshan, however, continued his love affair with the ground, with a 153-run stand with Sangakkara.
Dilshan, who made 68 and picked up two wickets, now averages 87.10 with the bat at the venue. He fell in the 35th over against the run of play, but Sri Lanka kept attacking.
Seekkuge Prasanna, Dinesh Chandimal, making a comeback, and Thisara Perera stroked eight fours and two sixes between them and batted around Sangakkara as Sri Lanka scored 92 runs in the last ten overs to take its total to 292 for 7.
Sangakkara was caught at covers by Ali off Jordan, but as he walked back – saluting the applauding crowd – it was with confidence that his last effort at the venue where it had all started for him nearly two decades back - would not go in vain.
The teams return to Colombo to play the final match of the series on Tuesday.
Please click here to see the full scorecard of Sri Lanka v England.