Friday, May 22, 2015 - 10:04 PM

Sri Lanka mounts big comeback to defeat England

SRI Lanka made light of an imposing target of 294 by beating England with 17 balls to spare to stay alive in the Champions Trophy on Thursday in London.

England was on course to clinch a semifinal berth after posting 293-7 under The Oval lights, but a century by Kumar Sangakkara and brilliant late fireworks from Nuwan Kulasekara led Sri Lanka to 297-3, the second-best successful run chase in Oval history.

The seven-wicket win meant Group A remained an open race for the semifinals, with New Zealand on 3 points, Sri Lanka and England on 2, and defending champion Australia also in contention on 1.

The Sri Lankans were all out for 138 last Sunday in a loss to New Zealand, so their prospects were dim when they were asked to score at nearly 6 an over in the dusk. But the old heads spearheaded the chase and were at it almost straight away. Sangakkara was called on after only 14 balls, after opener Kusal Perera was out for 6.

He and Tillakaratne Dilshan, the world's two leading ODI scorers last year, forced England to try six bowlers against them as they combined for 92 before Dilshan was out for 44.

Sangakkara was then joined by Mahela Jayawardene. They put on 85 for the third wicket before Jayawardene holed out to deep square leg to give James Anderson his second wicket at 187-3.

"We had to play well at the start, see off Jimmy Anderson, but Mahela played really well and we got on top of it," Sangakkara said. "I'm pleased to have done well."

Sri Lanka promoted bowling allrounder Kulasekara, who was the only change in the team after the New Zealand loss. But it was an inspired choice.

With Sangakkara unmovable, Kulasekara saw the victory line and raced to it. He whacked an unbeaten 58 off 38 balls, including successive sixes.

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