London, June 14: Kumar Sangakkara's magnificent unbeaten century powered Sri Lanka to a convincing 7-wicket victory over England in a Group A match of the Champions Trophy here on Thursday (June 13).
Sangakkara's 135-ball 134 not out and surprise package Nuwan Kulasekara's hurricane 38-ball 58 not out guided the Islanders to victory in the 48th over while chasing a big target of 294.
Kulasekara was promoted to number five and it turned out to be a masterstroke from the team. Sangakkara and Kulasekara had an unfinished partnership of 110 in 11.5 overs that took the game away from the hosts.
With this win, all four teams in Group A have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Sri Lanka opened their account with this success while England too have 2 points. New Zealand are on top with 3 points while Australia have 1.
Left-handed Sangakkara was superb while notching up his 15th ODI hundred at The Oval. He hit 12 boundaries in his knock. Kulasekara smashed 5 fours and 3 sixes.
It was a day when all three former Sri Lankan captains contributed with the bat. Apart from Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (42) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (44) also came good.
Earlier, three batsmen hit half centuries before a late flourish by Ravi Bopara helped the home side post a challenging 293/7.
Sent into bat, captain Alastair Cook (59) and Jonathan Trott (76) laid a solid foundation by sharing 83 runs for the second wicket from 17 overs after Ian Bell (20) was out early to set the tone for Joe Root (68) to accelerate the innings under overcast conditions at the Oval.
The initial advantage seemed to have frittered away somewhat for England before Ravi Bopara played a cameo of 13-ball 33 not out to take the score near 300 mark. He struck 28 runs with the help of three sixes and two fours from the last over bowled by pacer Shaminda Eranga. England scored 92 runs from the last 10 overs.
Cook and Trott played calculative innings by scoring runs in ones and twos. They cut off the risk and employed a safety-first approach as their partnership had just three boundaries.
Cook consumed 85-balls and hit just three fours while Trott found the boundary ropes five times in his 87-ball innings. The cautious approach was apparent from the very
beginning with prolong periods without boundaries.
However, England somehow got the runs and kept the scoreboard ticking. Their ability to negotiate fast bowler Lasith Malinga (2/58), whose first spell of four overs yielded just 10 runs, without any damage saw them in a sound position by the halfway mark when the home side were 124 for one.
Cook was also dropped twice in his 'strokeless' innings - on 23 and 56 - both by Tillakaratne Dilshan.
The England captain finally fell in the 29th over of the bowling of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath as he was trapped LBW while attempting a sweep shot playing across the line. Cook called for review which went against him.
Trott and Root then shared 87 runs for the third wicket from 13.3 overs before the former was out in the 42nd over with Herath taking his second wicket, also a LBW decision.
It was left to Root and Eoin Morgan (13) to get the maximum out of the slog overs but both perished in consecutive balls in the 46th over as England lost the initial advantage a bit.
Root, who was involved in a bar brawl with Australian David Warner in Brimingham on Sunday, was foxed by a Malinga slower delivery as the ball took the top edge for Mahela Jayawardene to take an easy catch at deep midwicket. Next ball, Morgan was adjudged LBW as he missed a fuller delivery.
Malinga, Herath and Eranga grabbed two wickets each while Kulasekara got a wicket.