Sam Billings and Liam Livingston smoothed out their twenty-twelve credentials as England endured a top-down swing to seal a series victory over Sri Lanka after a second race hit by the rain.
The duo is on the verge of setting over-limits, but after England stuttered to 36-4 in pursuit of 112 – a goal reduced to 103 out of 18 overs after a sharp shower – they placed the decisive 54 out of 48 balls.
Billings (24) departed with 13 still needed, but Livingstone (29 not out) and Sam Quran (16 out) forced England to cross the line with five wickets and 11 balls in reserve as they moved into a steady lead. 2-0 in the three-match series.
Star collective efforts on the field limited Sri Lanka to 111-7 – the lowest total England has ever allowed when it came out in full – Mark Wood and Adil Rashid took two boxes per piece.
Another impressive bat show from Sri Lanka after winning the throw raised fears of a new eruption after their defeat by eight wickets the day before, but the best order in England is missing. Joss Butler because of a veal strain curled up on an awkward surface, the same as the one on Wednesday.
Back then, tourists struggled with random variable bounces, losing leashes everywhere and only occasionally finding the border. A similar story was 24 hours later when David Willie and Sam Quran strangled Sri Lanka, who stumbled to 26-2 after the first powerplay without hitting four or six.
Noting this for the first time in this format, England had prevented its opponent from finding the rope in the first six overs – Sri Lanka eventually got a border count and a run after 46 balls – until the Qur’an’s nimble leg ended with Danushka Gunatilaka opening Avishka Fernando stood in a deep square.
Kusal Mendis carved Mark Wood away from the third man for Sri Lanka’s top four in the eighth and a little late spin pulled Chris Jordan for a six but 50-run stand next to him Perera bit consumes 54 balls, and the pair then leaves quickly in succession.
Perera, placed at 19 by Dawid Malan, added just two more to his overall score before finishing the leg to hit Rashid to cover in the 13th over. Five balls later, Mendis set off for a 39-ball run after making Wood high in the night sky.
Johnny Beirstov he picked up a heavy stapler that ran to the left, while Wood was two to two when Dickuela got a leading edge to cover.
Rashid had his second time when Vanindu Hasaranga missed a hook after invading the pitch, leaving Bairstow with a simple stagger. Sri Lanka failed to gather momentum until Isuru Udana pulled Jordan off the ground as they passed three pieces in the final.
Any thought of a slight chase on troubled ground was quickly dispelled when Beirstow was cleared in the second half, while Malan had his second single score in the series when he was caught in the front Dushmantha Chameera, an annulled decision was overturned when the inspection showed that the ball would have clicked into a stump.
Supporters of Sri Lanka among nearly 3,000 fans were in full voice when Morgan slapped to cover, while England jumped to 31-3 at the end of six overs. The position deteriorated when Jason Roy he waited to long for 17 as he tried to pick up the pace.
Billings and Livingston started nervously — they could both get into their innings early — but gradually warmed to their task with rain in the air, manipulating the field and running hard between the gates.
They brought England to 69-4 after 12 shots when the shower intensified, leading to a short break and a reduced goal of 12 balls less.
Billings cut Hassaranga to pieces, but a cameo with eight balls from the Koran ended the match, giving England a series victory before the final match in Southampton on Saturday.