The par score at 26.1 overs was 351 and England were miles behind that. Their margin of defeat by 219 runs is their heaviest ever in one-day cricket.
England who had taken a 3-0 lead however won the five-match series 3-1 with one match ending in a no-result.
England rested their captain Eoin Morgan, all-rounder Chris Woakes and fast bowler Olly Stone for this match to give the other players who haven‘t had a game the opportunity. But that moved subsequently backfired as Sri Lanka choose this game to turn it around after being at the receiving end for almost the entire series.
Niroshan Dickwella and Sadeera Samarawickrama starred in Sri Lanka’s highest ODI partnership for any wicket for the calendar year when they put on 137 for the first wicket off 115 balls to provide the perfect launching pad for their team’s total after they won the toss and choose to bat first on a belter of a pitch supported by a fast outfield.
Dickwella looked well on course to become the first Lankan batsman to score a century in ODIs for the calendar year when he was dismissed for 95 top edging an easy catch to Joe Root at backward point off Moeen Ali.
Dickwella was well in control of his innings and looked destined to reach a big score before his sad departure after facing 97 balls and hitting 12 fours.
With Samarawickrama who scored an aggressive 54 off 48 balls (8 fours) Dickwella who won the Man of the Match award got his team to a flying start with the pair impressing in running quickly between the wickets and latching onto the loose balls to hit boundaries.
Following the dismissals of the two openers, skipper Dinesh Chandimal who has now been slotted into the no. 3 position and Kusal Mendis produced another century stand that carried Sri Lanka towards their imposing total.
Mendis cast aside his recent disappointments of being dismissed for scores of 0, 0, 0 and 5 to play a breathtaking knock of 56 off 33 balls that comprised a four and six sixes - two of them hit off consecutive balls from Tom Curran to reach his fifty. With Chandimal, Mendis raised 102 off 76 balls for the third wicket. Chandimal continued to hold up one end and went onto score a nicely paced out innings of 80 off 73 balls (6 fours, 2 sixes).
The two big hitters Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera didn’t stay long enough to affect any major damage but Dhananjaya de Silva and Akila Dananjaya gave the innings a late impetus with a productive 38 runs partnership for the seventh wicket. De Silva rounded off the Lankan innings in style with a six over long-on off the last ball of the innings off Tom Curran who although taking two wickets proved to be the most expensive of the seven bowlers used conceding 71 runs off eight overs. The England fielding put under pressure for the second consecutive match proved ragged as they spilt three catches. Chandimal had two lives at 6 (Tom Curran) and at 8 (Mark Wood) and Akila Dananjaya at 17 (Moeen Ali). In comparison Sri Lanka gave a spectacular display of catching on the field especially the catches held by Kusal Mendis at slip diving to his left to send back Alex Hales, the one by Samarawickrama at point diving forward to dismiss Joe Root and Chandimal at extra cover to dismiss Moeen Ali.
England probably had their worst starts for a long time losing three wickets within the first two overs with the score stagnant on four as Kasun Rajitha and Dushmantha Chameera bowling fast and straight had them in all sorts of trouble. The innings was given a brief respite by Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali who figured in a fifth wicket stand of 79 off 66 balls, but once Akila Dananjaya had Ali held brilliantly by Chandimal for 37 the rest of the innings folded up tamely.
Stokes’ dismissal for 67 scored off 60 balls (12 fours) with the score at 122 ended whatever hopes England had trying to make a match of it as Dananjaya tore into their batting inflicting serious damage to the middle and lower order batting to finish with figures of 4 for 19.
Only a half full stadium witnessed Sri Lanka’s turnaround of fortunes, but the win could certainly see a packed house for the one-off T20I at the same venue on Saturday.