LONDON - Kumar Sangakkara's first century at Lord's laid the platform for Sri Lanka's nailbiting seven-run series-levelling win against England in the fourth one-day international on Saturday. Just days after they'd been shot out for 67 during a 10-wicket defeat at Old Trafford, Sri Lanka made 300 for nine after being sent into bat.
Sangakkara's 112 -- his first hundred at Lord's in any format -- was the centrepiece and together with Tillakaratne Dilshan (71), he put on 172 for the second wicket after they'd managed just 15 runs between them in Manchester. England needed what would have been their joint second-highest total to win a one-day international. But their pursuit of a victory target of 301 was rocked immediately when Lasith Malinga reduced England to 10 for two by removing captain Alastair Cook and Ian Bell.
But Jos Buttler, who came in with England in dire straits at 111 for five, brought the hosts back into the match with a brilliant maiden ODI hundred, the fastest ever scored at Lord's. Together with Ravi Bopara (51), the man-of-the-match shared a sixth-wicket stand of 133 that left England eyeing a remarkable win. England got the target down to 20 off two overs and then 12 off the last one, bowled by Malinga.
Buttler took a first-ball single but Chris Jordan then drove Malinga straight to Dilshan at long on. Buttler then took two only to be run out for 121 off the fourth ball when he dug out a yorker straight back to Malinga. A target of nine off two balls was beyond new batsman James Tredwell and Malinga, who took three for 52 had again proved himself a superb 'death' bowler.
Earlier, Sangakkara's 19th ODI century saw the 36-year-old take 13 balls to get off the mark. But such was the composure and experience of the left-hander, playing his 373rd match at this level, he never looked flustered. Sangakkara found his touch in the 18th over with three boundaries in successive balls from Joe Root.
The number three drove the occasional off-spinner straight down the ground and next ball lofted him over mid-on before cover-driving him for a superb four. Dilshan fell, having faced 109 balls with just five fours, when he was bowled leg stump by Anderson after attempting one trademark 'Dilscoop' shot too many. As well as representing a reversal of fortune for Sri Lanka, the innings was also something of a 'reality check' for paceman Jordan, who took a career best five for 29 at Old Trafford but saw his 10 overs ar Lord's cost 67 runs.
Sangakkara's two off Jordan saw him to a 95-ball hundred with 13 fours. However, Sangakkara was dismissed soon afterwards when off-spinner Tredwell had him stumped by opposing wicketkeeper Buttler. Malinga struck with his first ball when he had Cook lbw on review with an inswinger before fellow opener Bell edged the 'slingshot' seamer to Mahela Jayawardene at slip.
Ballance (42), who overturned his on-field dismissal on nought and Root (43) staunched the flow of wickets but the Yorkshire duo's sedate stand of 84 contained just three fours as England, who went 21 overs without a boundary, fell behind the required run-rate. Sangakkara ended the third-wicket partnership by taking an excellent catch off spinner Mendis after Ballance played a reverse sweep.
And when he stumped Eoin Morgan, England were 111 for five. But an undaunted Buttler hit cleanly and went to fifty by driving seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, whose 10 overs were an expensive 81 runs, for six. Buttler even hooked and pulled Malinga for a six and a four off consecutive balls. Bopara offered excellent support before he top-edged a sweep off Mendis to short fine leg. Buttler kept going, driving Kulasekara over extra-cover for two sixes in consecutive balls. And when he got to three figures in 60 balls, with nine fours and four sixes, Buttler had recorded the quickest ODI hundred at Lord's.