Cook guides England to historic series win

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COLOMBO, Oct 10 (Reuters) Opener Alastair Cook scored 80 to guide England to a five-wicket win and their first one-day series victory in Sri Lanka today.

A lacklustre display by Sri Lanka's top order meant they were restricted to a modest 211-9 after winning the toss and England surpassed this with 19 balls remaining.

It was England's first series win on the sub-continent since 1987. They have an unassailable 3-1 lead with one match remaining.

Visibly confident after two successive wins in Dambulla, England started their run chase positively with Phil Mustard (19) smashing early boundaries before Lasith Malinga grabbed a breakthrough with a cleverly disguised slower ball.

Cook and Ian Bell (25) settled down to compile 54 runs for the second wicket, laying the foundations for victory with a workmanlike partnership.

Sri Lanka were briefly buoyed by the fall of Bell, who mistimed a lofted drive to mid-off from leg spinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi, before a short rain interruption.

However, Kevin Pietersen ended his lean run in the series with a characteristically aggressive unbeaten 63 from 75 balls.

While Pietersen looked to exert his authority, especially off Sri Lanka's spinners, Cook intelligently worked the ball into gaps and accumulated his runs steadily.

The pair sealed England's win with a 110-run stand that was ended by Dilhara Fernando.

Ryan Sidebottom (3-27) and James Anderson (3-33) were the chief architects of Sri Lanka's demise, bowling with accuracy and discipline to reduce the home team to 20 for 3 after 11 overs.

Kumar Sangakkara (69) and Chamara Silva (67) partially repaired the early damage during a 126-run fourth-wicket partnership, but Sri Lanka were never able to wrestle back the initiative from England.

Seamer Stuart Broad had Silva caught at third man and Sangakkara on the long-leg boundary.

Jehan Mubarak chipped in with 20 but England's bowlers stemmed the flow of runs at the end of the innings.

REUTERS RAR BST2342

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