England crush Sri Lanka to keep series alive

Captain Cook steers home side to 10-wicket win with unbeaten 95, setting up series decider in Manchester on Saturday.

    Cook's innings followed a one-day career-best 119 on Sunday [Reuters]

    England captain Alastair Cook's unbeaten 95 completed his side's crushing 10-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day international at Trent Bridge here on Wednesday.

    England's win left the five-match series all square at 2-2 ahead of Saturday's Old Trafford finale.

    England, chasing a revised target of 171 after rain reduced their innings by two overs, finished on 171 without loss with more than 24 overs to spare.

    Craig Kieswetter was 72 not out.

    Left-hander Cook's innings followed the 26-year-old's career-best 119 in a six-wicket defeat at Lord's on Sunday.

    Man-of-the-match Cook, not even in England's squad at the World Cup this year on account of his supposedly slow one-day scoring rate, faced just 75 balls with 16 fours.

    Kieswetter, who struck three sixes and eight fours in 68 balls, helped Cook set a new England record partnership against Sri Lanka, surpassing the fourth-wicket stand of 154 shared by Graeme Hick and Neil Fairbrother at Adelaide in 1998.

    England's victory -- only their fourth 10-wicket one-day international win -- was all but assured after they dismissed Sri Lanka for just 174.

    James Anderson took three wickets for 24 runs in eight overs before fellow seamer Jade Dernbach wrapped up the innings with three wickets in 10 balls.

    Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara made a gritty 75 before he was last out but none of his team-mates made more than Angelo Mathews's 39.

    England off-spinner Graeme Swann had issued a plea in the build-up to this match for a pitch that would give his side a 'home advantage'.

    "When we go to Sri Lanka they don't play on green seamers," Swann, who plays at Trent Bridge for Nottinghamshire, said.

    Grass on the pitch

    But that is just what confronted the teams on Wednesday after Cook won the toss and fielded.
    Cook, speaking after the match to Sky Sports, insisted: "I honestly don't think it (the ball) moved that much, although thank you to the groundsman for leaving grass on the pitch, which is what we asked for.

    "Craig and I proved it was a very good wicket, but home advantage is there in all sports, and you can use it."
    Asked if he'd batted better in a one-day match, Cook replied: "Probably not, I don't always time the ball as nicely as that."

    The first over of the match saw Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan caught behind off a good length Anderson delivery for nought and from then on the tourists were always struggling.

    "We lost so many wickets in the first few overs," said Dilshan. "If we get runs on the board, we can win the next match and the series.

    "England bowled really well in the conditions today, especially Anderson."

    Mahela Jayawardene made 144 and 79 in World Cup finalists Sri Lanka's 69-run and six-wicket wins at Headingley and Lord's respectively.

    But on Wednesday he managed just nine before he edged an away-swinger from Tim Bresnan to first slip Jonathan Trott.

    Dinesah Chandimal then went from the heights of 105 not out at Lord's to the low of a duck when lbw to an Anderson inswinger.

    All-rounder Mathews hit back by driving Dernbach and Broad for sixes.

    But his enterprising innings finished when he was caught and bowled by Bresnan, diving forward in his follow-through.

    Sangakkara, though, guided Bresnan to the third man boundary -- the left-hander's fifth four -- to complete a grafting 80-ball fifty.

    But he eventually miscued Dernbach to point.


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