England completed their second successive victory in the VB triangular series, beating a lacklustre Sri Lanka by 95 runs at the WACA. After starting badly England were indebted to Paul Collingwood (100) and Craig White (48) for enabling them to reach 258, and Andrew Caddick then took three top wickets to maintain the revival and put England on course for a win.
After a wayward first over Caddick struck a telling blow in his second, inducing an edge from Marvan Atapattu which was held safely by Nick Knight at second slip. Atapattu's opening partner, Sanath Jayasuriya, gave Caddick a return catch as he got a leading edge trying to paddle the ball away to leg.
Caddick was well supported by Jimmy Anderson, who would have taken two wickets in an over but for missed catches by Alec Stewart, trying to hold a leg glance from Jehan Mubarak at full stretch, and Marcus Trescothick, who couldn't hold on to a top edge from Kumar Sangakkara as he ran down to deep third man.
Fortunately for England neither miss was expensive. Nasser Hussain held Mubarak at mid-wicket in Caddick's next over, before Anderson reaped just reward when Sangakkara was caught behind. That was 46 for four. Mahela Jayawardene and Russel Arnold put on 45 before Jayawardene, after making an attractive 30, couldn't get on top of a Craig White delivery, presenting Knight with a straightforward catch at square leg.
As in the previous game at Brisbane, Sri Lanka then drifted aimlessly behind the required run rate. Thilan Samaraweera, having taken 48 balls to make 27, was well caught by Stewart cutting at Blackwell, who added the wicket of Chaminda Vaas in his next over, Collingwood doing well to take a steepler at mid-wicket.
Arnold (44 off 82 balls) was caught behind slashing at Steve Harmison, who then caught Dilhara Fernando, heaving woefully at Anderson, nicely at third man. And it was Harmison who finished it off, clean bowling Pulasthi Gunaratne to end Sri Lanka's somewhat feeble resistance.
Earlier a maiden one-day international century from Collingwood hauled England back from the precipice. Collingwood was out for exactly 100 off the last ball of England's innings, having rescued them from the perils of 122 for six.
England were able to name an unchanged side after Somerset all-rounder Ian Blackwell reported fit despite the blow to the left hand he had taken from a Steve Harmison delivery in the nets yesterday. After Hussain won the toss, Trescothick (11) was the first to go, pulling Vaas straight to Gunaratne on the mid-wicket boundary. Fellow opener Knight perished attempting the same shot two balls later, hitting it high to Fernando at mid-on.
Hussain edged his second ball from Fernando between wicket-keeper and first slip, and narrowly avoided being run out when Ronnie Irani called for a quick single to square leg. Irani was then missed by Arnold at second slip off Fernando, but departed in the following over, lbw to Vaas trying to push the ball to leg.
Collingwood, crucially, was also dropped at slip off Vaas before Prabath Nissanka struck twice in his third over. Hussain was caught behind trying to cut, and Stewart was taken at second slip three balls later.
Blackwell made a rapid 19 before he also was caught at slip, trying to force Fernando off the back foot. It left a heavy responsibility on the young shoulders of Collingwood, but the Durham man found exactly the partner he needed in fellow all-rounder White.
The two added a crucial 110 runs for the seventh wicket, during which Collingwood went past his previous best score for England, 77 against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo last year. White nudged and nurdled his way to 48, with just one boundary, before losing his leg stump to a full-length ball from Fernando.
Caddick helped Collingwood add another 18 before he was caught in the covers off a skyer, and Collingwood went through to his 100 (125 balls, two sixes, four fours) in the final over before slashing Fernando straight to cover point. Collingwood can rest assured of a World Cup berth next year, while England, after their recent tribulations, can enjoy a little festive cheer.