ENGLAND are this morning set to resume their one-day rescue mission in Sri Lanka after all-rounder Chris Woakes returned the third best figures by an English bowler in one-day international history.
Rain intervened in Pallekele yesterday at the end of the Sri Lanka innings after England had dismissed their hosts for 239 with the final ball of the 49th over.
Warwickshire’s Woakes led the charge with the ball, claiming 6-47 from eight overs to post the most impressive haul by an English bowler in Sri Lanka, and the second six-wicket international haul of his career following 6-45 against Australia at the Gabba in 2011.
Fellow all-rounder Chris Jordan continued his rejuvenation with 2-56 from his 10-over allocation, while off-spinner James Tredwell – recalled at the expense of Ben Stokes – mopped up the remaining wicket.
The Sri Lankan innings was once again underpinned by the mercurial Kumar Sangakkara, who struck 10 fours in a 123-ball knock of 91, after England skipper Alastair Cook, back in the side after serving his ban for a slow over-rate in Hambantota, won the toss and chose to field.
Sangakkara’s half-century was his fourth in succession, while the 37-year-old shared a partnership of 85 with Sri Lankan captain Angelo Matthews following a stand of 51 with opener Tilakaratne Dilshan.
The veteran left-hander’s union with his skipper helped Sri Lanka navigate potentially choppy waters at 59-3 before Jordan struck to remove Matthews, as Thisa Perera added late momentum with a 17-ball 27.
England will face a relatively modest run-rate of 4.80 in their reply but will still have to make history in order to win given the previous highest run-chase at the Pallekele International Stadium remains Sri Lanka’s 239-2 against South Africa in 2013.
Tredwell’s economical return of 1-33 from 10 overs will likely mean the tourists, who also omitted Alex Hales and Ravi Bopara from Sunday’s six-wicket defeat, face a trial by spin.
Sri Lanka immediately restored Sachithra Senanayake after the off-spinner’s bowling action was cleared by the International Cricket Council on Tuesday, while Jeevan Mendis and Ajantha Mendis also lie in wait.
England trail 3-1 in the seven-match series and require victory to avoid Sri Lanka securing an unassailable lead.