Moeen Ali scored the third-fastest England ODI century in the first of seven one-day internationals against Sri Lanka, but ultimately a lack of penetration with the ball cost the tourists, who lost by 25 runs.
Partnering captain Alastair Cook at the top of the order once more, Moeen did his level best to take a chunk out of the sizeable target of 317 set by Angelo Mathews’ side, as the Worcestershire shot-maker raced away to 119 from 87 balls.
The left-hander’s rousing maiden ODI century, to follow up a 50 in England’s only warm-up match, added credibility to the selectors’ decision to bump him up to opener.
Off the back of such an exhilarating knock which contained 11 fours and five sixes, Moeen’s price of 7/2 to top score in the second ODI for the Three Lions looks beefy.
However, individual brilliance with the bat was not enough, as it won’t be if England are to win the series from behind, where they are given just a 9/2 chance by Ladbrokes.
That was England’s sixth defeat in seven matches in the 50-over format, and they better hope seamer Steven Finn is passed fit for at least some of the remaining games on the sub continent.
England’s inexperienced opening pace attack of Chris Woakes and Harry Gurney couldn’t exploit favourable conditions early on, allowing Sri Lanka’s top order to seize the initiative and lay the foundations for a big score.
Against the likes of man-of-the-match Tillakaratne Dilshan (88) and Mahela Jayawardene (55), England’s attack came off second best, though successive dismissals for spinner James Tredwell did offer hope at one stage.
Peter Moores’ players will need to collectively pull their socks up for the next instalment in Colombo, as other than Moeen, only Ravi Bopara (65) offered more than 35 runs in reply.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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