ICC Champions Trophy: Sangakkara dents England hopes

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara takes evasive action on his way to a matchwinning 134 not out against England. Picture: AFP/Getty
Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara takes evasive action on his way to a matchwinning 134 not out against England. Picture: AFP/Getty
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England’s Champions Trophy­ hopes hang in the balance after a regal century from Kumar ­Sangakkara and some mighty blows by Nuwan Kulasekara powered Sri Lanka to a seven-wicket ­victory at the Kia Oval.

England may now need to win their final Group A match against New Zealand on Sunday to reach the semi-finals, but ­current weather forecasts are unsettled.

England posted an impressive 293 for seven after losing the toss, Alastair Cook (59), Jonathan Trott (76) and Joe Root (68) making half-centuries before Ravi Bopara flogged 28 in the last over of the innings to massage the total.

But Sangakkara’s 15th one-day hundred ensured that wasn’t quite enough, finishing with 134 not out in 135 balls and finding joyous late support from pinch-hitter Kulasekara, who belied an average of just 16 to make an explosive unbeaten 58.

Things had started relatively well for the home side, who will have been glad to see Root among the runs after the distraction of his bar-room altercation with David Warner over the weekend.

But their bowlers had no ­answer to Sangakkara, who came to the wicket in the third over after the impatient Kusal Perera fell early to James Anderson.

Sangakkara soon set about forging his first partnership of the day, putting on 92 runs in 18 and a half overs alongside Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Cook had gambled on Root at first change but he was calmly milked for 27 runs by two excellent players of spin.

Sangakkara was scoring with real freedom as Sri Lanka eased into three figures but Dilshan (44) holed out to Graeme Swann after the spinner had dried things up.

That brought Jayawardene to the middle and he took a liking to Stuart Broad, who was taken for 20 in two overs, including a graceful straight six and two wristy pulls for four.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene looked immovable at 187 for two but the powerplay immediately changed the game, Jayawardene lofting Anderson to Jonny Bairstow at deep mid-wicket.

Kulasekara was sent up the order to play some shots and he complied with aplomb, passing 20 at a run-a-ball before swiping successive sixes off Swann.

He followed by pulling Broad for a third maximum over long-leg and punched the next two balls for four to record a remarkable half-century.

Kulasekara’s happy hitting took the pressure off Sangakkara, whose 11th boundary signalled the hundred partnership in just 68 balls.

His 12th won the game, with 17 balls remaining.