Sri Lanka skittled England for a paltry 99, as Nuwan Kulasekara knocked off the top order and Sachithra Senanayake improved his career-best for the second match running, to secure a crushing 157-run victory
On the eve of this one-day international, Sri Lanka's coach Marvan Atapattu talked of his belief that the team's fighting spirit would earn them a way back into the series. His charges proved him right in commanding fashion, skittling England for a paltry 99 to condemn them to their heaviest ODI defeat on home soil. Nuwan Kulasekara knocked off the top order and Sachithra Senanayake improved his career-best for the second match running to earn a crushing 157-run victory
It required a reverse sweep from James Anderson to take England past their lowest ODI total - 86 against Australia, at Old Trafford in 2001 - and a six over deep-backward square leg from Eoin Morgan to avoid a record runs defeat. Alastair Cook, the injured captain who missed this match meaning Morgan was in charge, could well have been pondering what had changed in the three days since The Oval as he watched on from the balcony.
Sri Lanka's batting performance was workmanlike in tricky conditions, having been put in. Tillakaratne Dilshan top scored with 88 - his first ODI fifty on English soil - and a sparky contribution from the recalled Ashan Priyanjan, who struck two sixes in a 33-ball 43 after being dropped on 5, revived a flagging innings in the final 10 overs.
Still, a total of 256 did not suggest how one-sided the second half (or quarter) would be. England's top order was dismantled as Kulasekara took 3 for 1 in 11 deliveries while Lasith Malinga extracted Joe Root's off stump as the innings slumped to 29 for 4 - it was a score England remained on for 25 deliveries.
Michael Carberry, who had been recalled in place of Cook, could not take his opportunity when he edged Kulasekara behind and in his next over Ian Bell nicked a cut shot which was well taken by a diving Kumar Sangakkara away to his right. Kulasekara's third of his decisive opening burst came when he straightened one on Gary Ballance to win an lbw - Morgan confirmed to Ballance there was no point in reviewing.
England were being outdone by what they would see as their own methods: a hint of seam and swing against batsman with uncertain footwork. England's bowlers had, in fact, not used the morning conditions well, failing to find consistency and, in all, offering 15 wides in Sri Lanka's innings.
Losing four wickets inside seven overs did not quite condemn England with Morgan still at the crease, but the middle order could not form a recovery of any sorts.
Ravi Bopara could not pick Sachithra Senanayake at The Oval and fell to him again here, flummoxed by a delivery that did not really do too much on its way to hitting off stump. Jos Buttler, who it is often said does not have enough time to build an innings, lobbed a catch into the covers from Angelo Mathews' first delivery, a strange dismissal where the ball appeared to stop in the surface.
Hitting out at the end of an innings is one thing, but Chris Jordan could not expect to repair this damage and also fell to Senanayake. The offspinner had said Sri Lanka would find a way to overcome the cold and while his spinning fingers may have been a bit stiff they worked to impressive effect.
Dilshan and Sangakkara had laid a foundation for Sri Lanka by adding 96 for the second wicket before the innings lost direction, including Mahela Jayawardene's run out from third man as he laboured for a third run, until a fifth-wicket stand of 66 in nine overs between Mathews and the Priyanjan gave the innings some energy.
Anderson was the only bowler to strike in the first half of the innings when he had Lahiru Thirimanne caught at second slip. Thirimanne's innings was a curious one: for the majority of his 37-ball stay he could barely get the ball off the square but, out of nowhere, picked up a length delivery from Harry Gurney and launched it over midwicket for the day's first six before nicking to James Tredwell in the slips.
Dilshan was more confident, slotting two straight drives off Gurney's second over, and later collected another boundary when he perfectly bisected deep square leg and long leg with a pull off Jordan. Having passed 15,000 international runs during the innings - the fifth Sri Lankan to do so - he went to his half-century from 63 balls. He appeared set for his 18th ODI hundred before receiving an excellent delivery from Jordan which nipped back between bat and pad.
Sangakkara was largely kept quiet by the England attack until he advanced at Tredwell and lofted him over mid-on but Tredwell held his nerve in the contest and lured Sangakkara into a top-edged slog sweep. Jayawardene then gifted England his wicket when he dawdled after Dilshan had edged the ball towards third man.
When Dilshan was cleaned up Jordan, England had a grip on proceedings, helped by the fact that Morgan had been able to hustle through some relatively cheap overs from Tredwell and Bopara. However, England's fielding let them down as Priyanjan was dropped at third man by Gurney on 2 and Mathews was also given a much simpler life by Bopara on 24.
Priyanjan cashed in against Tredwell when he was brought back for his last over having previously bowled nine in a row. The over cost 16 included two sixes for Priyanjan - one straight driven and one over midwicket - and sparked him on to a very handy contribution, which also included a reverse lap off Jordan before he spliced to midwicket. At the time, it appeared he had done no more than make Sri Lanka's total competitive. Just a couple of hours later it was so much more than that.