Anderson gets captain Cook off to win in the rain

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England 229-8

Sri Lanka 121

England win by 110 runs (D/L method)

Much more of this and Alastair Cook's critics will be seeking to clarify their view. What they meant when they said he was unfit to be captain of England's one-day team was that he was a leader of rare genius capable of inspiring performances of the highest calibre.

Under slate-grey London skies last night, the home side produced a dazzlingly sunny exhibition. Sri Lanka, who had swept England aside in the quarter-finals of the World Cup two months ago and had won last weekend's Twenty20 match at a canter, were clinically dismantled.

England, put into bat because of the prevailing conditions, made 229 for 8 from 32 overs after the first one-day international was trimmed by heavy rain. The tourists replied with 121 all out, a defeat by 110 runs when the Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target was taken in.

It was not quite a perfect match for the new captain. Cook faced only three balls for his five runs, a single and a smartly clipped four being followed by a meat-and-drink leg glance that was too fine. But England, marshalled by the recalled Craig Kieswetter, then showed positive intent, as they had promised, and crucially managed to keep their nerve when it threatened to go wrong.

The initial dash, barely disturbed by the long break for rain, was eventually stopped by the rapid loss of wickets before a highly profitable late burst from the late middle order.

When England came out to defend their total, Cook assembled his charges in the regulation huddle and whatever he said had them in fits of laughter. It must also have been strategically astute, because by the fifth over Sri Lanka were 15 for 4 with their entire quartet of celebrated batsmen out, Sanath Jayasuriya for the last time. Three of those wickets, and four in all, fell to Jimmy Anderson, who also took three catches, one a bobby dazzler, and thus banished painful memories of the World Cup which he ended in state of utter exhaustion.

There was no way back from that and the match proceeded along lines familiar after such collapses. Sri Lanka knew all hope was gone, England sustained the pressure, everyone politely went through the necessary motions. The only slightly worrying note was the continuing threat of more rain before Sri Lanka had faced the 20 overs that are essential to constitute a one-day match.

"You never get a near-perfect performance," said Cook, refusing to get carried away. "But we played really well. I thought we handled the rain break fantastically and then when we took so many wickets early it was a long way back from there. We tried to break it down into a 20-over match after the stoppage, took the batting power play early and did it brilliantly."