England v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Lord's May 31, 2014

Buttler ton in vain as Malinga holds nerve


Sri Lanka 300 for 9 (Sangakkara 112, Dilshan 71, Gurney 4-55) beat England 293 for 8 (Buttler 121, Bopara 51, Malinga 3-52) by seven runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jos Buttler produced arguably England's greatest one-day innings - his first ODI hundred, the fastest for the country and the fastest at Lord's - but Sri Lanka clung on to level the series in a contest that became gripping during the latter stages of the chase.

Buttler's 61-ball century, eclipsing the 69-ball record of Kevin Pietersen at East London, brought England's requirement down to 12 off the final over but Lasith Malinga held his nerve as Chris Jordan holed out and Buttler was run out for 121 off 74 with two balls of the innings remaining.

He had come to the crease to join Ravi Bopara with England listing on 111 for 5 in the 29th over with the innings having included just four boundaries. They proceeded to add 133 in 16.2 overs to bring the equation down to 62 required off the last six when Bopara top edged a sweep off Ajantha Mendis.

But Buttler responded by taking 20 off the next over - bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara - including two skimming sixes over extra cover. Jordan dug out singles and twos where he could, scampering manically between the wickets, although it was basically down to Buttler who reached his hundred with a brace off Mendis. The force was with England but a single to Buttler off the first ball of the final over ate up a priceless delivery, especially when no runs were scored as Jordan was dismissed next ball at long-on.

It was a breathless finish to a match that was seemingly dribbing to a rather soporific conclusion. England needed to achieve their highest chase on home soil to seal the series after Sri Lanka posted 300 for 9 but for more than half the chase there was barely a whimper. They lurched to 10 for 2 against a supreme new-ball spell by Malinga and could never find the impetus to mount a challenge. At one point they went 130 deliveries without hitting a boundary before Buttler began his mission with a reverse sweep in the 31st over.

It was a performance that added fuel to well-worn arguments that England do not possess the required top-order power when a large score - and 300 is no longer the gargantuan total it was - is either there to be chased down or needed to be set. At one point Alastair Cook could be seen with head in hands on the balcony. He perked up during Buttler's onslaught, but his overriding emotion is likely to be one of frustration.

Sri Lanka would have struggled to accept this match slipping away although some of their bowling and fielding slipped under pressure. But they ultimately claimed victory and for much of the game it was another display of their resilience. Conditions were markedly different from Old Trafford yet it was still another striking turnaround having been bowled out for 67 three days ago led by Kumar Sangakkara's first hundred at Lord's.

Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan added 172 for the second wicket - Sri Lanka's third best stand for that wicket in ODIs - to form the backbone of the total. Although England fought back in the final 10 overs, a final-ball boundary by Mendis enabled Sri Lanka to cross the psychological 300 marker: England had only ever chased down more than 300 twice in their ODI history.

Sangakkara's innings will not get him a spot on the honours board - that is reserved for Test hundreds - but it did tick off one of the missing milestones in an illustrious career.

His previous best at Lord's in any format was 65 and he needed 13 balls to get off the mark but then progressed silkily to his hundred off 95 deliveries. The first of his 14 boundaries, a hook against Chris Jordan, did not come until his 27th ball but it was the three in a row he took off Joe Root that really launched his innings. When he was stumped off James Tredwell in the 43rd over he left to a standing ovation.

Sangakkara worked hard to find his timing before he clicked into gear with three consecutive boundaries off Root; twice using his feet to loft down the ground and then a peachy cover drive. Beautiful footwork also helped him beat mid-on off Tredwell and he latched on to loose deliveries from Ravi Bopara, who strayed on both sides of the wicket. The 10 overs combined of Bopara and Root cost 76 runs.

Sangakkara and Dilshan joined forces after Kusal Perera, brought in as Sri Lanka shuffled their order, edged a wild mow to slip. Dilshan scratched around, reaching 13 off 29 deliveries, before scooping James Anderson and following that with another boundary to fine leg.

Dilshan brought up his half-century the ball after Sangakkara but it always more of a battle for him. His last 21 runs soaked up 37 deliveries and he was also discomforted after a collision with Root in the bowler's follow through.

He fell in the first over of the batting Powerplay, attempting to scoop a full delivery from Anderson which took leg stump, and England regained a semblance of control. Mahela Jayawardene has been short of runs in this series and it was a scratchy innings from him. The final 10 overs brought 83 runs, fewer than Sri Lanka would have wanted.

Malinga produced a wicked four-over spell, trapping Cook lbw with one that swung back in and was overturned by the DRS and then finding Ian Bell's edge to slip. He did not concede a run until his 18th delivery and even then it was a squirted edge to third man.

Root and Gary Ballance tried to rebuild but it was painful progress. After the first 10 overs England were 34 for 2 and there was precious little lifting of the run rate. Ballance struggled against the spin of the recalled Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake before edging a reverse sweep which summed up the innings which used 69 deliveries. Root had only faced one ball fewer when he top edged to fine leg.

England put great stock in the ability of their middle order but the asking rate was approaching eight when Eoin Morgan walked in and did not dip. Morgan could not find the boundary in 16 balls and was then stumped. The game appeared up. It wasn't. What followed was epic and will give England much food for thought. For Sri Lanka there was just relief.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Surath on June 3, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    @ Compton-Effect ; You are correct mate. I really dont like U.T. I think I hate him more than any other fan but yes you are right. U.T might have got way too many opportunities than any other player but for SLC to make the most of it, they need to give Tharanga an extended run till the World Cup in 2015. Should have taken him in this tour. He has a crappy technique playing out side off stump but when he gets going he score big and for a guy who has a crappy technique (specially opener) he has done remarkably well in conditions like england. KJ is good undoutably in Asian conditions. But is he the one to open in Aus/NZ in 2015??? Thirimanne let us down badly. He should have taken the given chances at the top. He was sent in as an operner to grind runs and stay till the 40th over so that others can score around him. That's his strength but he failed. Time to bring UT in

  • Arshad on June 3, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    The rates pattern on Betfair after the book was closed and re-opened with the start of Butler-Bopara partnership suggested that England would lose or at worst, it would land as a tie. The "Cricket Lovers" favored England hugely at 1.40 to England :-)

  • Android on June 3, 2014, 3:00 GMT

    Sanga Is The God Of Cricket.. He Is The Best Batsman In The World

  • Samantha on June 2, 2014, 14:53 GMT

    @ tallgrass: Are you trying to say a well established player is unacceptable, simply because he was little behind his own batting average? Tharanga has a Batting Av of almost FORTY (39.9) in his last 8 ODIs, before he was dropped in 2013! Why don't you see the current burden on the side, due to miserable failure of his replacement, Kusal (Averaging 14.2 in 21 ODIs sans Bang) ?

  • Nicholas on June 2, 2014, 12:14 GMT

    @Weerasiri Abeytunge (post on June 1, 2014, 12:37 GMT): My guess would be that yes, there is a flaw with Hot-Spot in that certain tapes, glues etc. on modern bats mean that contact can be missed - but I haven't heard anything or seen any evidence for contact with pads being missed (and I doubt players will put tape/glue on those). With Root's dismissal, there was a clear mark on the pad where bat hit pad AND Snicko only showed a noise when bat struck pad. There was neither a Hot-Spot nor a noise on Snicko as ball passed bat, = "Not Out" in my mind. Matthews was a tad unlucky in that yes, there was a sound as ball passed bat, but no Hot-Spot; in such circumstances I would prefer benefit of doubt goes to batsman! And I'm a bowler...

  • Andrew on June 2, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    @JG2704 : Lets not get carried away by Buttler's knock. It was one of the best but I think Kohli's 133 against the same bowling attack in foreign conditions of Hobart when India needed to chase 321 of 40 overs to give them a chance of qualifying was a much better knock.

  • Paulo on June 2, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    @Jg2704 You never know with Buttler needing 9 off 2. There's a good case for him being one of the most talented finishers around. A Malinga got taken apart at the Oval don't forget.

    Re Carberry, no I haven't seen his Viv impression. But I did see him get his duck on Friday. There is some lov for him down at Hampshire (some fans were even singing for him). I just hope he hasn't been ruined by his England experience.

    Well done Tredwell. Back like his old self. No chance whatsoever of a test place though, but kudos for him for trying.

  • Anver on June 2, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    Superb effort by Butler & he deserved to be the MOM !!!! he was on a rampage with Ravi, the pair almost clinched the improbable victory for ENG !!! wish the series decider on Tuesday will be another thriller !!!!!l

  • Jayalath on June 2, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    Had enough of these tharanga moaners. Why is he out of the team? His ODI career avg is 33.88. In 2012 he played 26 inngs at 30.08 and in 2013, 11 innings at 28.70 (that too because of 174 in one match). Both years he has performed BELOW his career average. The hype is about the 2006 tour of England when batting coach Hathurusinghe moulded him into a run-machine.

  • Kanishka on June 2, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    As good as Buttlers innings was he was aided by some atrocious fielding and the inability of those fielders to hit the stumps. The field placements were also questionable when a guy keeps on hammering you over the covers you either put a fielder there or change the line of attack not bowl at the same place!!! Luckily there was a 300 run cushion and the worlds best death bowler in SL ranks.

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