Tenth Match

England v Sri Lanka

At Southampton, September 17, 18. England won by 49 runs (D/L method). England 2 pts. Toss: Sri Lanka.

In a summer of jaw-dropping innings from Flintoff, this hundred against Sri Lanka left spectators open-mouthed with wonder. It had its faults - Jayawardene should have caught him at slip for a single, and Chandana will hold more difficult chances than the one he spilled at deep mid-wicket when Flintoff had 25 - but it was magnificent. Its glory lay in its tempo. Flintoff arrived at a thorny 70 for three, treading warily as the grudging Rose Bowl pitch hindered timing. He had a watchful 21 when rain ended the first day, and just 27 after facing his 50th delivery next morning. But soon the thud of ball on boundary board boomed round the ground - except when Flintoff went aerial. He reached 51 off 69 deliveries, then drew breath for three dot balls. The next 18 he plundered for 53 as all the earlier Sri Lankan containment - the inexperienced Maharoof had led the way - counted for nought. Flintoff 's clean hitting, especially strong down the ground, helped England cash in 78 from the last six overs. The fourth and last hundred of Flintoff 's phenomenal international season was the only one-day century made at the Rose Bowl in 2004. Lost in the excitement were important contributions from Trescothick and Collingwood. On this icing-sugar wicket, England's 251 was worth 300-plus elsewhere. The Sri Lankan reply was quickly derailed by Harmison and the ubiquitous Flintoff, who grabbed the key wicket of Jayasuriya before rain returned for the last time. Atapattu later claimed Sri Lanka's depth of batting could still have won it had the weather held. Few agreed.

Man of the Match: A. Flintoff. Attendance: 15,000. Close of play: England 118-3 (32 overs) (Trescothick 64, Flintoff 21).

© John Wisden & Co