ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook admitted Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara was too hot to handle as the hosts suffered a seven-wicket defeat in their Champions Trophy group match at The Oval yesterday.
After England had set a target of 294 to win and seam bowler James Anderson (2-51) made the early breakthrough in reply, Sangakkara came to the crease and hit a match-winning 134 off 135 balls.
The result leaves all four teams in Group A a chance to reach the semi-finals, with England needing to beat New Zealand on Sunday to progress, but Cook had no complaints about the defeat.
“The difference was an outstanding hundred from an outstanding batsman,” said Cook.
“He didn’t give us a chance. Sometimes you have to give credit where it’s due to the other team. We needed to take a couple more wickets, but it was a very good chase down.
“We knew we had to win one of our last two games. That’s why the Champions Trophy is such a good tournament, every game has something on it and we’ll come back firing against New Zealand.”
Steady innings from Cook (59) and Jonathan Trott (76) gave the hosts some early momentum, but it was the arrival of Joe Root at the crease that really sparked England into life.
The 22-year-old hit 68 off 55 balls and was ably supported by Ravi Bopara who added 33 off 13 balls as England closed on 293-7.
Anderson took the wicket of Kusal Perera in the third over as Sri Lanka’s reply started slowly.
But an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand of 110 from Nuwan Kulasekara, 58 off 38 balls, and Sangakkara steered Sri Lanka home.