Target of 318 in first ODI, built on half-centuries from Dilshan, Jayawardene and Kusal Perera, too much for England
Ali smashed 119 in just 87 balls, in a knock studded by 11 fours and five sixes, as he got the visitor’s chase of Sri Lanka’s formidable 317 for 6 off to a quick start. Bopara attempted to finish what Ali started, and his 65 off 62 balls at the end offered England hope of victory, but wickets fell around them. England folded for 292, Bopara the last man out in the 48th over.
Earlier, put in to bat at the Premadasa stadium after rain delayed the match start by an hour, Sri Lanka built its total on half-centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan (88), Mahela Jayawardene (55) and Kusal Perera (59).
Dilshan and Perera got off to a flier, adding 120 for the first wicket by the 23rd over, and punishing the wayward England bowling, which produced 17 wides. Dilshan then went on to add 76 for the third wicket with Jayawardene, and Sri Lanka was comfortable at 253 for 3 when James Tredwell, the offspinner, dismissed Angelo Mathews, the captain, and Jayawardene with his last two deliveries in the innings.
Lahiru Thirimanne (27 off 22 balls) and Jeevan Mendis (30 off 14 balls) helped take the Sri Lankan score past the 300-run mark. Sri Lanka’s last ten overs resulted in 94 runs.
England may have been left questioning its decision to field first, especially when Alastair Cook, the captain, was out after making only ten despite two reprieves. Ali, however, stood strong, taking England to 107 for 1, before it lost three wickets for 17 runs to start the slide.
Thisara Perera, the seamer, finished with three wickets for 44 runs, while Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath took two each.
The second match will be played in Colombo on Saturday.