Eng v SL, fourth ODI: Jos Buttler's hitting was sensational as hosts fell just short of target
But Sangakkara's magnificent knock must not be forgotten, says Strauss
Last Updated: 02/06/14 11:47am
England's hopes of chasing down the tourists' total of 300-9 looked in tatters when they slipped to 111-5, but Buttler's fireworks meant Alastair Cook's men were beaten by only seven runs.
Buttler (121) reached three figures off 61 balls - the fastest ODI hundred by an Englishman and the quickest ODI century at Lord's - and shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 133 with Ravi Bopara (51) as England reached 293-8 after 50 overs.
And while Lasith Malinga's deadly death bowling put the kibosh on any chance of a home win in the final over and ensured the series moved level at 2-2 ahead of Tuesday's decider at Edgbaston, Botham was left purring over the performance of his nation's talented keeper-batsman.
"Buttler played one of the best innings you will see, considering the position England were in when he got to the crease," Beefy said of the Lancashire man.
"He was positive from the moment he arrived and he improvised, but what I liked was how he got the front foot out of the way so his arms could come through, he could free himself up and he could hit the ball so cleanly."
Malinga's last over, in which he dismissed Chris Jordan, ran out Buttler and shipped just four runs, saw Sri Lanka home, but the 2014 ICC World T20 Champions were also indebted to the strokeplay of Kumar Sangakkara.
The 36-year-old registered 112 from 104 balls earlier in the day, a knock which included 14 fours, before he was stumped by Buttler off the most economical of England's bowlers, James Tredwell (1-39 from 10 overs).
Sri Lanka opener Tillakaratne Dilshan constructed an innings of 71, too, but Sky Cricket pundit and former England captain Andrew Strauss applauded Sangakkara and the way he took advantage of his opponents selecting just four frontline bowlers.
"He was phenomenal," Strauss said of the right-hander, who scored a total of 61 runs from the first three ODIs with England, at The Oval, Durham and Old Trafford.
"It took him a little bit of time to get going but when the spinners came on he played brilliantly. He used his feet, struck the ball very cleanly and was very fluent all the way throughout his innings.
"You didn't see him sweep that much, as he went down the pitch, met the ball and smacked it. It was very sensible battling and he is magnificent at manoeuvring the field around.
"He can make you look stupid as a captain now and again, but I think England had a bit of trouble with the fifth bowler, with Bopara (four overs for 36) and Root (six overs for 40) taking a bit of tap."
Watch England and Sri Lanka's series decider from 1.30pm on Tuesday on Sky Sports 2.