Cardiff: Liam Livingstone saw England to a series-clinching win over Sri Lanka as the hosts overcame a batting slump in a rain-affected second Twenty20 international at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Thursday.
England appeared to have the game sown up after holding Sri Lanka to 111 at Glamorgan’s headquarters.
But they collapsed to 36-4 in the face of some spirited Sri Lanka bowling chasing 112 – a target reduced to 103 from 18 overs following a rain delay.
But Sam Billings (24) and Livingstone (29 not out) steadied the innings.
Billings fell shortly before the finish but Sam Curran (16 not out) helped England to a five-wicket win with 11 balls to spare as the world’s top-ranked T20 side went 2-0 up in this three-match series.
“Any test that we come up against at this stage, with the (T20) World Cup in mind, is a good challenge – anything out of the ordinary is good,” England captain Eoin Morgan told Sky Sports.
“So certainly the hiccup we had early in our innings when we were trying to force the equation a little bit with the bat pegged us back but the composure of Liam Livingstone and Sam Billings really showed our strength in depth.”
Earlier, a fine collective effort in the field saw Sri Lanka held to a meagre total, with 111 the fewest number of runs England have conceded when bowling their full 20 overs at this level.
Fast bowler Mark Wood (2-18) and leg-spinner Adil Rashid (2-24) led the way as England avoided conceding a boundary in the powerplay for the first time in a T20 international.
Kusal Mendis (39) and Kusal Perera (21) provided the only meaningful resistance with the bat.
But England, without Jos Buttler due to a calf problem following the opener’s 68 in Wednesday’s 1st T20 in Cardiff, saw Jonny Bairstow bowled for a duck by paceman Binura Fernando at the start of their chase.
Dawid Malan then fell for his second single figure score of the series, lbw to Dushmantha Chameera.
The dangerous Jason Roy was dismissed for 17 when he holed out to long-on with Morgan (11) also falling cheaply.
But, with such a small target to chase, one decent partnership was always likely to be enough for England.
Billings and Livingstone fitted the bill, with Lancashire all-rounder Livingstone thrilling spectators with a ramped six.
Curran’s six down the ground ended the match, with England assured of a series success ahead of Saturday’s finale at Southampton.
D. Gunathilaka run out (Curran) 3
A. Fernando c Livingstone b Curran 6
K. Perera c Morgan b Rashid 21
K. Mendis c Bairstow b Wood 39
N. Dickwella c Morgan b Wood 3
D. Shanaka c Willey b Jordan 8
W. Hasaranga st Bairstow b Rashid 3
I. Udana not out 19
A. Dhananjaya not out 2
Extras (lb3, w4) 7
Total (7 wkts, 20 overs) 111
Did not bat: D Chameera, B Fernando
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Gunathilaka), 2-18 (Fernando), 3-68 (Perera), 4-76 (Mendis), 5-76 (Dickwella), 6-87 (Hasaranga), 7-90 (Shanaka)
Bowling: Willey 4-0-17-0 (3w); Curran 2-0-8-1; Jordan 4-0-31-1 (1w); Livingstone 2-0-10-0; Wood 4-0-18-2; Rashid 4-0-24-2
England (revised target 103 in 18 overs)
J. Roy c Shanaka b Hasaranga 17
J. Bairstow b B Fernando 0
D. Malan lbw b Chameera 4
E. Morgan c de Silva b Udana 11
S. Billings b Hasaranga 24
L. Livingstone not out 29
S. Curran not out 16
Extras (lb4, w3) 7
Total (5 wkts, 16.1 overs) 108
Did not bat: D Willey, C Jordan, A Rashid, M Wood
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Bairstow), 2-8 (Malan), 3-30 (Morgan), 4-36 (Roy), 5-90 (Billings)
Bowling: Chameera 4-0-29-1 (2w); B Fernando 3-0-17-1 (1w); Udana 4-0-25-1; Hasaranga 4-0-20-2; Dananjaya 1.1-0-13-0
Result: England won by five wickets (DLS method)
Player of the match: Liam Livingstone (ENG)
Series: England lead three-match series 2-0
Toss: Sri Lanka
Umpires: Alex Wharf (ENG), Mike Burns (ENG)
TV umpire: Martin Saggers (ENG)
Match referee: Phil Whitticase (ENG)
June 26: 3rd T20, Southampton
June 23: 1st T20, Sophia Gardens: England won by eight wickets