England no match for meticulous Malinga

England were unable to reach the 184 required at The Oval on Tuesday, losing the one-off T20 against Sri Lanka by nine runs despite Alex Hales' valiant 66, as he was alone in his resistance.

England were unable to reach the 184 required at The Oval on Tuesday, losing the one-off T20 against Sri Lanka by nine runs despite Alex Hales' valiant 66, as he was alone in his resistance.

Sri Lanka made 183 for seven in their 20 overs thanks to a late blitz by Thisara Perera, and England never really looked like reaching it as Lasith Malinga took three wickets with impeccable bowling to see England end on 174 for seven.

England won the toss and chose to bowl first, and soon got a wicket in the bag thanks to debutant paceman Harry Gurney. He sent Tillakaratne Dilshan packing for 14, after the veteran had shown the attack no respect with a number of Dilscoops.

Kusal Perera was also not long for the middle, and he was removed by Chris Jordan with the score also on 24, hit straight to Ravi Bopara in the circle. This meant debutant Kithruwan Vithanage and vice-captain Lahiru Thirimanne had to steady the ship.

They did so admirably in the early-to-middle overs, with a missed stumping and some sharp chance going to ground to help them along. Vithanage made a neat 38 off 26 balls, surviving one dropped catch only to hit it to Michael Carberry next ball.

Thirimanne was also handy in adding 40 to the score, and he survived the cheap departures of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews before combining with Thisara Perera for a short spell before falling.

When Thirimanne was removed in the 18th over, the score was on 141 and England would have been pleased with the progress. But then Carberry and Eoin Morgan collided in the deep to drop Thisara, and he punished them severely.

He smashed 49 runs off just 20 balls at the death, with Jordan going for 22 runs in the 19th over. Gurney did well to bowl the last for just nine though, including Thisara's run out off the final ball.

England's chase got off to a poor start, and Carberry's day got worse, as he was out for just seven. He was well caught by Nuwan Kulasekara in the deep, diving forward off Mathews' bowling.

Malinga was the next bowler to strike, after Hales and Ian Bell's stubborn stand pushed the score to 45 and forced the death bowler into the attack earlier. But the change worked, and Bell was caught for 13 in his first T20 game for England in three years.

Joe Root was the next to depart, just 13 runs later. He was strangled down the leg side and nicked it to the keeper off Suranga Lakmal, out for five. At this point, Hales was on 25, watching helplessly from the other end.

Stand-in skipper Morgan was not long for the middle either, making just five runs before being caught in the deep by Suranga Lakmal, who made an easy catch look tough and catching it just above the ground.

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler joined Hales and they upped the scoring rate but it was still around 12 to the over, with time running out. Buttler knocked a quick 26 off 16 balls, while Hales brought up his half century, but was caught in the deep by Dilshan in the 15th over.

Hales' resistance eventually came to an end in the 17th over. He smashed Malinga for four to long on, but the next ball, a slower one again, saw the Notts man's stumps scattered. He went for 66, leaving Ravi Bopara and Chris Jordan with a big task.

While Bopara hit out at the end, it was too little too late as Jordan was sent packing too. With 28 required off the final two overs, Bopara pushed it to 12 off the last two balls, but he could not get those required sixes.

England: Alex Hales, Michael Carberry, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Jos Buttler (wk), Ravi Bopara, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, James Tredwell, Harry Gurney

Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Sachithra Senanayake, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga