Bell propels England victory
England XI 314 for 4 (Bell 131*, Cook 66) beat Sri Lanka Board XI 234 (Kapugedera 75, Anderson 3-43) by 80 runs
Ian Bell scored England's first century of their one-day tour of Sri Lanka, and James Anderson starred with three wickets, as the team warmed up for their five-match one-day series by defeating a Sri Lanka Board XI by 80 runs at Colombo's P.Saravanamuttu Stadium.
Bell eventually finished unbeaten on 131 from 121 balls, an innings that demonstrated how valuable his level-headed strokeplay would have been to their disappointing Twenty20 campaign in South Africa last week. He cracked 12 fours and four sixes in all, and was joined in the runs by Alastair Cook, who made a steady 66, and Kevin Pietersen, who needed just 29 balls for his even 50.
Despite a flu bug that has swept through the camp, England managed to field a full-strength side with Collingwood winning the toss and batting first. Phil Mustard, Matt Prior's replacement as wicketkeeper, made a shaky start and required 15 balls to get off the mark, and when he fell for 17 after eight overs, England were struggling for momentum on 33 for 1.
But Cook and Bell then took the attack to the bowlers in a second-wicket stand of 89, Cook batting with increasing freedom before he holed out to long-on after an 88-ball stay. That brought Pietersen to the crease, and he wasted no time in picking up the same form he had shown in South Africa last week, cracking 17 in a single over to push England up towards the 300 mark.
Pietersen fell immediately after reaching his half-century, caught by Viraj Perera off the legspin of Gihan Rupasinghe, but Bell took up the cudgels in the closing overs, with Ravi Bopara chipping in with a run-a-ball 22 before he became a second victim for the legspinner, Gihan Rupasinghe.
In reply, the Sri Lankan innings was never able to get going. Ryan Sidebottom, restored to the side after a side strain, was handed the new ball ahead of Stuart Broad, and struck with the first ball of his second over to remove Viraj Perera for 12. When Anderson followed up with the opposition captain, Avishka Gunawardene (11), England never looked back.
The young Test batsman, Chamara Kapugedera, held the innings together with an attractive 75, but wickets fell all around him on a slow and low pitch. Broad had Indika de Saram caught and bowled for 25, before Collingwood removed Thilina Kandamby and Gihan de Silva in quick succession - the latter was caught behind to give Mustard his first catch in England colours.
At 150 for 5 with 22 overs remaining, the Sri Lankans still had an outside chance of mounting a challenge, but the return of the new-ball bowlers did the trick. Anderson removed Ranga Dias for 20 before claiming the key wicket of Kapugedera, caught behind after an 87-ball stay, and six balls later Sidebottom accounted for Rupasinghe for 1. The ninth-wicket pair of Ashan Priyanjan and Malinga Bandara kept England waiting with a 54-run stand, but Broad bagged Bandara lbw for 27, and Monty Panesar wrapped up the game with his first wicket of the tour.