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With conditions improving, it was a total that should have been well within England’s reach, but they simply could not cope with the opening spells of Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga.
Michael Carberry, recalled because of injury to Cook was the first to go, caught behind by Kumar Sangakkara off the bowling of Kulasekara.
The same pair accounted for the other opening batsman, Ian Bell with the total on 26 and Joe Root swiftly followed, bowled by Malinga before scoring.
When Gary Ballance was lbw to Kulasekara, the Sri Lankan had taken three wickets for one run in 11 deliveries and England were reduced to 29-4.
There was no way back for a team led by Eoin Morgan, although the stand-in skipper and Ravi Bopara finally gave the innings some stability, facing 24 balls without scoring at one stage.
It meant they had added only 17 runs when Bopara was the next to depart, bowled by Sachithra Senanayake.
And the procession continued when Jos Buttler lobbed up the first delivery from Angelo Mathews and Senanayake took an acrobatic catch.
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