SL vs Eng: Sri Lanka wins series opener despite Ali century
Colombo, Sri Lanka: Moeen Ali hit a dominant 119 off just 87 deliveries in a lost cause on Wednesday, as England went down to Sri Lanka by 25 runs in their first one-day international.
Sent in to bat first, Sri Lanka posted a challenging target of 317-6, helped by an aggressive 88 from opener Tillakaratne Dilshan and half centuries from Kusal Perera (59) and Mahela Jayawardene (55).
England was bowled out for 292 in the 48th over with Ali at the heart of the reply with his maiden century in ODIs. His innings included five sixes and 11 boundaries but lacked support from the other batsmen, with the exception of Ravi Bopara who was out last for 65.
Thisara Perera took three wickets while Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis picked up two wickets each for the hosts.
England's innings started began in dramatic style with captain Alastair Cook being twice adjudged lbw in the first over bowled by his opposite captain Angelo Mathews. He survived both times through successful reviews.
Cook was beaten by deliveries swinging in, was hit on the pad and given out by Sri Lankan umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge. But television replays showed that the ball hit the pad high and could be bouncing over the wicket.
However Cook was not third time lucky when offspinner Dilshan trapped him lbw for 10 runs for England's first wicket with the total on 51.
Ali and Ian Bell shared 56 runs for the second wicket before Bell (35) was caught in the slip for Thisara Perera's first wicket.
A flurry of wickets soon left England reeling on 159 for five. Some hope returned for the tourists in a 44-run stand for the sixth wicket between Ali and Bopara, followed by 40 runs for the seventh wicket between Bopara and Ben Stokes.
Ali was the fifth wicket to fall, caught and bowled by leg spinner Jeevan Mendis.
England always appeared to have a chance but lost wickets at crucial moments.
Thisara Perera had figures 3-44 and was supported by spinners Ajantha Mendis (2-55) and Herath (2-58).
Earlier Dilshan rallied Sri Lanka's top order, while Kusal Perera ended a 12-match run without a half-century as he added 120 for the opening wicket with Dilshan. Perera faced 74 balls and hit five boundaries and a six before being run out.
No. 3 Kumar Sangakkara was out lbw for 2 after being beaten by flight and turn from offspinner Ali.
Jayawardene rebuilt the innings with Dilshan with a 76-run third-wicket stand in 81 balls.
Dilshan was beaten by a slower ball from seamer Chris Woakes, and gave him a return catch. He hit 10 boundaries for his 40th half-century.
Offspinner James Tredwell took two wickets in successive balls to lift England late in the innings.
Angelo Mathews, who made 33 off 24 deliveries including three sixes and a boundary, hit Tredwell for two successive sixes in the 43rd over and was out attempting a third, caught by Stokes on the long-on boundary.
Jayawardene tried to guide the next ball to fine leg, and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler took a sharp catch to leave the hosts on 253-5 after 43 overs.
Then, Jeevan Mendis smacked 30 off 14 deliveries and Lahiru Thirimanne added 27 off 22 balls to secure a challenging total. Mendis, playing his first one-dayer for Sri Lanka in 16 months, scored 21 off the 49th over bowled by Woakes.
Tredwell finished with 2-52 while Woakes had 2-68.
The second ODI in the seven-match series will be played at the same venue on Saturday.