Sri Lanka's New Year resurgence continued as they defeated England by 31 runs in their one-day international match at the SCG on Monday.
Sri Lanka scored a formidable 284 for seven after a second consecutive hundred from skipper Sanath Jayasuriya and then bowled England out for 253.
Star off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan further sweetened the victory when he bowled tail-ender James Anderson to reach 300 one-day wickets.
Muralitharan thus joins an exclusive club, drawing level with Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble, with only two bowlers having taken more: Wasim Akram (490) and Waqar Younis (409).
The victory leaves just two points separating Sri Lanka (12) and England (14) as the two sides battle out for the chance to meet Australia in the three-match finals.
No team has ever qualified for the finals after losing their first three games, like Sri Lanka did before Christmas, but Jayasuriya's side now has the advantage of having a game in hand over England.
England were left ruing another middle order collapse after the second consecutive century stand between openers Marcus Trescothick (85) and Nick Knight (42).
The left-handed pair added 165 against the Australians at the weekend only to see their middle order squander the advantage and eventually lose by seven runs.
This time they wrestled the advantage away from the Sri Lankans, adding 115 in 20 overs, before losing five wickets for 64 runs.
Fast bowler Dilhara Fernando started the freefall with a brace of wickets, snaring Knight off a skied pull and then Nasser Hussain, who edged a catch behind.
Fernando also played a key part in the crucial wicket to fall, that of Trescothick, who looked destined to score his fifth one-day hundred.
However, the 27-year-old was run out by a laser-like throw from the square-leg boundary by Fernando having made 85 from 86 balls.
England, 161 for three after the loss of Trescothick, suffered further as the wickets of Paul Collingwood (2) and Alec Stewart (6) fell in quick succession. Collingwood was clean bowled as he aimed a sweep and Stewart was run out after a mix-up with Owais Shah (39).
English hopes flickered briefly as Shah and Ian Blackwell (16) added 38 for the sixth wicket but Sri Lanka's slow bowlers, cleverly rotated by Jayasuriya, proved too difficult to score quickly against on the turning Sydney pitch.
Aravinda de Silva, veteran of 295 ODIs, showed his experience at the death with his part-time off-breaks, taking four for 30, his best bowling figures.
Earlier, Jayasuriya and number three Hashan Tillakaratne (44) recovered from the early loss of Marvan Atapattu to add a record 144 for the second wicket against England, surpassing the 138 scored by Marvan Atapattu and Romesh Kaluwitharana at Lords in 1998.
Jayasuriya, who scored heavily on both sides of the wicket, added a further 55 with De Silva (51) as he completed his 15th one-day century, finishing with 106 from 110 balls having hit 15 fours and a six.
During the course of the innings the left-hander passed 8500 one-day runs.
Sri Lanka now meet Australia on Wednesday at Brisbane before the crucial encounter between England and Sri Lanka at Adelaide on Friday.