LONDON, Thursday - Marvan Atapattu carved out a magnificent unbeaten century to guide world champs Sri Lanka to a five-wicket win over England in the final of the Emirates Triangular tournament played at Lord's here today.
Sri Lanka chasing England's total of 256, won with 17 balls to spare reaching 260 for five wickets when Hashan Tillekeratne square cut Graeme Hick for four.Atapattu who came to bat in the first over when Sanath Jayasuriya was bowled by Darren Gough without scoring, held the Sri Lanka innings together to reach his second century in one-day internationals playing in his 50th match. He batted 151 balls and hit 14 fours for his unbeaten 132.
With this century Atapattu has shown a liking for this venue having made 114 against Middlesex early on the tour.
Atapattu and Romesh Kaluwitharana shared a record second wicket partnership of 138 off 26.1 overs to put Sri Lanka within range of England's total after Jayasuriya's early dismissal.
Sri Lanka lost Aravinda de Silva (34), Ranatunga (1) and Upul Chandana (10) cheaply to falter midway, before Tillekeratne gave Atapattu the support to see the side through.
Off-spinner Muthiah Muralitharan took his second five-wicket haul in one-day cricket to restrict England to a total of 256 for 8.Muralitharan took three wickets for no runs off five balls in his final over, to finish with figures of five for 34, after England had got off to a flying start having won the toss and deciding to take first lease on a good batting track.
Muralitharan's figures were the best by a bowler in a one-day international at Lord's improving West Indian Joel Garner's 5 for 38 against England in the 1979 World Cup final.Recalled former England captain Michael Atherton and left-hander Nick Knight shared a record opening partnership of 132 off 153 balls to give the home side a firm footing for a big total.Atherton went onto make 64 off 73 balls with seven fours before becoming Muralitharan's first victim.Knight completed his half-century off 65 balls, but required a further 71 balls for his next 44 runs as Sri Lanka crawled back into the game throught their spinners.
Knight eventually fell six short of a hundred when Muralitharan held on to a brilliant return catch diving to his right. Knight faced 136 balls and hit four fours.The previous highest opening stand by England against Sri Lanka was 123 between Graham Gooch and Tim Robinson at Pune in the 1987 World Cup.
The rest of the England batting failed to make any impression, after leg-spinner Upul Chandana took the big wicket of Graeme Hick for 14. Hick whose previous two innings of the tournament were 86 and 64, was bowled off stump going for a drive.
England captain Alec Stewart survived a chance at nine to complete 3,000 runs in one-day internationals before gloving a catch to Romesh Kaluwitharana at 18. Stewart deflected a ball from leg-spinner Upul Chandana off his bat onto boot which Kaluwitharana caught. The appeal was negatived by umpire David Shepherd.
Suresh Perera, took two wickets with the first two balls of the final over, but undid his performance when he bowled two successive wides, one of which went for four and brought up England's 250.Skipper Arjuna Ranatunga made 16 bowling changes to keep England's total within reasonable limits. They finally ended up with 256 for 8 off 50 overs, having lost five wickets for 38 runs off 38 balls to continue their now familiar collapses in the tournament after good starts.
In the two previous games, England lost seven wickets for 24 runs of 35 balls in the first match against Sri Lanka and, eight more for 69 runs against South Africa on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka opted for Chandana ahead of seamer Mario Villavarayen and batsman Mahela Jayawardene who were the other candidates for the bowling spot vacated by Chandika Hathurusingha. England strengthened their batting by including former captain opening bat Atherton in place of the out-of-form Adam Hollioake.