Liam Plunkett hit the final ball of a thrilling match for six to snatch a tie for England against Sri Lanka, on the back of Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler’s defiant heroics at Trent Bridge.
The hosts faltered to 30 for four and then 82 for six in reply to 286 for nine in the first Royal London Series match.
But in the key absence of Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, off the field with a sore hamstring, seventh-wicket pair Buttler (93) and Woakes (95no) put England back in the mix with a brilliant stand of 138. hen, just when it seemed Sri Lanka would surely prevail after all, No 10 Plunkett smashed Nuwan Pradeep high over long-off for six to leave the scores level.
Woakes and Buttler were two of only three batsmen in the top nine to even reach double-figures as England faltered to the all-round skills of Mathews – who followed his hard-working 73 with two early wickets.
Sri Lanka’s total, on a good pitch after Eoin Morgan won the toss, owed most to Mathews but also plenty to a hugely contrasting half-century from Seekkuge Prasanna (59).
When Mathews then induced a false start in reply, England soon seemed done.
Jason Roy could not locate Mathews’ wicket-to-wicket line and was lbw when the ball hit his back pad. hen came a collector’s item moment of bizarre misjudgment from Alex Hales. He chiselled a simple catch to midwicket off Suranga Lakmal, before being talked into chancing England’s only review by non-striker Joe Root on the apparent basis that his bat might have been tucked behind his pad. It was not. Root then went back to Mathews and was bowled.
Jonny Bairstow, in his first ODI since last September went for three when he guided a catch to point.
Morgan then edged a waft at Pradeep and Moeen Ali chopped on before Buttler and Woakes shook things up.
Buttler was dropped at cover on 90 as it seemed England wer on course for a famous chase. But he was then brilliantly caught on the long-on boundary by Dasun Shanaka with 67 still needed.
Woakes went on to a maiden 50 in this format but it was Plunkett who grabbed a share of the glory and the spoils in an unbroken half-century partnership as England finished on 286 for eight after hitting 29 off the last two overs.
Mathews had earlier dug in with the bat to provide Sri Lanka’s longevity – while Prasanna was by far the most effective of several who blazed away.
Mathews hit just five fours from 109 deliveries, the watchful role required to ensure Prasanna’s remarkable 24-ball 50 – the second of his 28-match ODI career, coming only three days after his first against Ireland – did not go to waste.
When Woakes returned to the attack, he immediately got Prasanna to splice an attempted back-foot thrash straight back to the bowler. Mathews had contributed just nine of 68 for the fifth wicket with Prasanna, and continued to play the long game.
He was eventually eighth out, chipping Plunkett’s last ball to long-off, but had done enough to keep his team highly competitive in a match which ended in the eighth tie in England’s ODI history.