International Cricket

Captain Cook helps England levels series against Sri Lanka

Alastair Cook narrowly missed his second successive hundred as England beat the weather, and trounced Sri Lanka, at Trent Bridge to level the NatWest Series at 2-2.

An Old Trafford decider therefore beckons on Saturday, after James Anderson did most to derail Sri Lanka for only 174 and then captain Cook answered his critics again.

His and Craig Kieswetter’s record opening stand was interrupted by a heavy shower at 55 in under eight overs, and the threat of more rain was the only conceivable danger to England – who knew 20 overs of their innings were mandatory to constitute a result in a match they dominated throughout.

But in pursuit of a revised target of 171, Cook (95 not out) followed up last weekend’s Lord’s century as he and Kieswetter (72 not out) ensured any doubt about the outcome was merely fleeting on the way to 10-wicket margin – with an astounding 24.1 overs to spare.

Cook, not even in England’s squad at the World Cup this year on account of his supposedly slow one-day scoring rate, faced just 75 balls with 16 fours.

Kieswetter helped Cook set a new England record partnership against Sri Lanka, surpassing the fourth-wicket stand of 154 shared by Graeme Hick and Neil Fairbrother at Adelaide in 1998.

Anderson (three for 24) had shone again, on his most productive international ground, as England’s seamers hustled Sri Lanka out in only 43.4 overs.

Three of Sri Lanka’s top five went for six runs between them to Anderson, at the venue where he took 11 for 71 against Pakistan in last summer’s Test series.

Kumar Sangakkara (75) then dug in to rescue a still under-par total, after his team had been put in and lurched to 57 for five.

Anderson took his one-day international tally to 14 wickets in Nottingham – the best by anyone here – and Tim Bresnan also shifted danger man Mahela Jayawardene cheaply with the new ball.

T Dilshan was first to go, for a fourth-ball duck, via a thin edge behind as Anderson immediately found swing and away movement off the pitch too in his first over.

Jayawardene was undone at the other end by Bresnan, edging another that left him low to slip.

Young number three Dinesh Chandimal then achieved cricket’s hero-to-zero feat, following his match-winning unbeaten Lord’s hundred with a duck when Anderson got one to hold its line and pin him lbw pushing forward.



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