Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Dec 3: Jos Buttler and Joe Root shared an unbeaten 84-run stand to rescue England from a mid-innings collapse and lead the tourists to a five-wicket victory against Sri Lanka under the Duckworth/Lewis method in their third one-day international today.
Batting first, Sri Lanka made 242 for eight in 35 overs of a rain-hit match. Buttler smashed 55 off 37 deliveries and Root scored a run-a-ball 48 to help England to its Duckworth/Lewis target of 236 runs for five wickets in 33.4 overs.
The win has helped England narrow the series gap to 2-1 with four more matches to be played. England captain Alastair Cook was pleased with the win but said it could have been achieved easier.
"Great to get over the line, (we) probably made it a little harder for ourselves," he said. "Got a great start with Moeen and were cruising, but it was a great effort by Jos and Root to get us over the line."
"Overall we had a pretty bad game on the field," Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said. "We don't need to panic... we've got to bounce back hard."
Butler and Root came together after the tourists appeared to have squandered the advantage of a good start, losing three wickets for eight runs to leave themselves struggling on 152 for five.
Ali (58) and Cook (34) shared 84 runs for the opening wicket and scored at more than seven runs per over before Sri Lanka's fast bowler Dhammika Prasad provided his team the first breakthrough.
Cook pushed at a delivery and was caught behind by Kumar Sangakkara. Ali was involved in a mix-up with Alex Hales while trying to take a single and was run out. Lahiru Thirimanne dropped a simple catch from Hales at 21 but the batsman was out two balls later, caught by Ajantha Mendis at mid-on off Mathews.
Sangakkara well anticipated a paddle sweep from Ravi Bopara and caught him moving down the leg side off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. Buttler hit nine boundaries in his innings while Root hit two sixes and two fours.
13,000 ODI runs for Sangakkara
Earlier Sri Lanka's Sangakkara and Thirimanne scored half centuries to help Sri Lanka post a formidable 242-8 in 35 overs.
Electing to bat first, Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera for a duck in the second over, just before rain interrupted the match, which was shortened to 35 overs per side. Sangakkara made 63 off 62 deliveries after Sri Lanka was reduced to 31-3, reaching 13,000 runs in one-day international cricket in the process.
Thirimanne upped the run rate in the death overs with 62 off 47 deliveries, as 62 runs were plundered off last five overs. Seamer Chris Woakes was the pick of the bowlers with 3-41.
The fourth of the seven-match series will be played in Colombo on Sunday.