Jayawardene seals series glory
Sri Lanka 265 for 2 (Jayawardene 126*, Sangakkara 62*) beat England 261 for 7 (Bell 77) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out - England
How they were out - Sri Lanka
Bell, along with jaunty knocks from Jamie Dalrymple and Geraint Jones, had lifted England after an innings that laboured for 40 overs before coming to life as the final 10 brought 89 runs. However, any chance England may have had of keeping the series alive disappeared with a new-ball spell that abandoned all notions of line and length.
The confidence that is surging through the Sri Lankans was evident with the way they started the run chase. Sanath Jayasuriya lashed a series of wide long-hops to the cover and third-man boundary as Steve Harmison and Liam Plunkett fluffed their lines in front of a home crowd. Sajid Mahmood's first ball brought the breakthrough as he charged through after delivering and caught Jayasuriya short - but that was as good as it got for Mahmood.
At The Oval he was caned for 80 in seven overs; here his first three overs were carted for 27 as the ball was sprayed on both sides of the wicket, allowing Tharanga and Jayawardene to help themselves. Andrew Strauss was left in a hopeless position because each time he tried to cover another gap in the field the bowler would be hit somewhere else. When one was pitched in the right place, producing a nick, there was no one in the slips to catch it. The bowlers only had themselves to blame.
Jayawardene brought up a sparkling fifty off 40 balls and his stand with Tharanga - who again looked a million dollars through the covers - added 87 off 69 balls. Dalrymple gave England some relief when Tharanga top-edged a sweep to short fine-leg, but Sri Lanka were so far ahead of the rate they could just bide their time.
The flamboyance of Sri Lanka's batting was in stark contrast to a generally stodgy effort from England, only boosted by the late flurries of the middle order. Vaas removed Strauss and Marcus Trescothick during a tight opening burst and put the breaks on a solid start from England after an opening stand of 62. The most worrying sight for England came when Kevin Pietersen was struck on his injured left knee by Farveez Maharoof. He went down in obvious pain and Dean Conway, the England physio, spent a couple of minutes checking Pietersen's knee. He resumed batting, but virtually on one leg, and not for long as he flashed a short, wide ball from Lasith Malinga which suggested his mind was elsewhere.
Sri Lanka gave Bell a life when Russel Arnold spilled a low chance in the gully on 17 and he and Paul Collingwood started to form a useful partnership as Jayawardene brought his spinners into operation. Malinga Bandara, in his first appearance of the series in place of Muttiah Muralitharan, bowled fairly flat, but gave the ball a tweak. Dalrymple continued to make a positive impression, showing an aggressive intent from the outset, cracking Bandara for six down the ground. He went inside out through, and over, cover as he and Bell took 15 off Vaas' ninth over after the first eight had cost 23.
Bell reached fifty off 86 balls after it took him 69 to find the boundary. Dalrymple's flourish rubbed off and he began to back away, planting the bowlers through the covers. Thoughts at the interval were that the score was about right to create an exciting game but Jayawardene turned the chase into one-way traffic. This was another black day for England but everything Sri Lanka have touched over the last three weeks has turned to gold.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo