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Moeen Ali's fifty inspires England win over Sri Lanka

Hambantota,Sri Lanka: Opener Moeen Ali hit a dazzling 58 off 40 balls to inspire England to a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the rain-affected third one-day international in Hambantota on Wednesday.

The tourists, chasing a revised Duckworth-Lewis target of 236 in 35 overs, cruised home with eight balls to spare to record their first win in the seven-match series. Kumar Sangakkara became only the fourth batsman in history to surpass 13,000 one-day runs as Sri Lanka scored 242-8 in a game reduced to 35 overs-a-side when heavy rain interrupted play after just two overs.

Moeen Ali inspires England win over Sri Lanka
Moeen Ali. Pic/AFP

The 37-year-old left-hander reached the landmark when he took a single off Chris Woakes to move to 13 and celebrated by top-scoring with 63 in the innings. Ali smashed five sixes and two boundaries at the top of the order before Joe Root and Jos Buttler put on a match-winning stand of 84 off 64 balls for the unbroken sixth wicket.

Buttler hit 55 off 37 balls and Root chipped in with a run-a-ball 48 after the tourists had lost half their side by the 24th over for 152 runs. Skipper Alastair Cook contributed 34 in an opening stand of 84 with Ali before he was dismissed in the 12th over, caught by Sangakkara off seamer Dhammika Prasad.

The run out of Ali in the 15th over following a mix-up with Alex Hales triggered a collapse in which England lost four key wickets for just 49 runs. But Root and Buttler stepped in to turn the game around in dramatic fashion as the Sri Lankan bowling wilted under their assault.

The fourth match will be played on Sunday in Colombo where Sri Lanka had won the first two games. Sri Lanka plundered 62 runs in the last five overs, but Root and Buttler ensured England's run-rate too did not slacken. Sangakkara now lies behind three retired batsmen in the all-time list led by Sachin Tendulkar of India, who made 18,426 runs in 463 ODI matches.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has 13,704 runs in 375 ODI matches and Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka has 13,430 runs in 445 games. Sangakkara, who made his international debut in 2000, is also just 12 runs short of completing 12,000 Test runs. He has made 11,988 runs in 128 Tests.

Sri Lanka were without senior batsman Mahela Jayawardene, who is not playing due to personal reasons. He was replaced by Thilina Kandamby. Players wore black arm-bands to mourn Australian batsman Phil Hughes, whose funeral took place earlier in the day. Hughes died in Sydney last Thursday from injuries sustained after being hit on the skull by a rising ball during a domestic match.

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