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England inch closer to finals

Adelaide: England virtually assured themselves of a place in next week’s tri-series finals with a 19-run win over Sri Lanka on Friday.

England had posted a daunting 279 for seven from their 50 overs before Sri Lanka made a bold reply but were eventually bowled out for 260 in 49.2 overs.

Sri Lanka had been in a good position until captain Sanath Jayasuriya, set for his third century in four matches, collided with batting partner Kumar Sangakkara mid-pitch and was run out at the bowler’s end for 99. The left-hander had faced just 83 balls and hit nine fours and two sixes.

Sangakkara, with 56, and Russel Arnold, with 35, added 93 for the sixth wicket before Andy Caddick, who took four for 35 and won the Man of the Match award, had them both caught in the deep by Ian Blackwell.

Australia lead the series with 27 points after winning five out of six matches. England have 19 points and Sri Lanka 14, both from seven games. Each side play eight matches before the best-of-three finals start on January 23.

England captain Nasser Hussain told reporters: “Sanath was playing beautifully and it (the run out) was the turning point of the game, definitely.”

“The game was there to be won,” Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore said. “But when you give away extra runs through ill-discipline, you have only got yourself to blame.” Sri Lanka, who were without off-spinner Muttiah Muralidharan because of a thigh muscle strain, gave away two extra overs in wides and no-balls.

England opener Nick Knight shared half-century partnerships with Marcus Trescothick, who made 39, and Michael Vaughan, who made 28 and took one for 35 in his first game of the series after overcoming injury.

Knight also put on 51 for the fourth wicket with Stewart before the opener was out for 88 from 110 balls. Stewart controlled the tempo of the closing overs with a stylish 51 from 59 balls, including a stand of 54 for the sixth wicket with Paul Collingwood, who made 18 from 16 balls.

Sri Lanka needed 5.6 runs per over and took 16 runs from the first two overs before Caddick broke through six balls later by bowling Maravan Atapattu for 12. Jayasuriya reached his 50 from 35 balls with a push to the leg side for two in the eighth over.

England paceman Stephen Harmison, who had bowled two overs for 27, appeared to hurt his leg in a fielding mishap and limped off in the 16th over.

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