Cook made to pay for toss decision

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Alastair Cook said England did not play well enough to make the most of a brave decision at the toss as Sri Lanka levelled the NatWest Series at 1-1 with a 69-run win yesterday.

Cook, having won his first match as Andrew Strauss’ ODI successor batting first at The Oval, won the toss at Headingley and opted to allow the tourists to set a target.

Driven by Mahela Jayawardene’s classy 144 as well as impressive contributions from Kumar Sangakkara (69) and Angelo Mathews (46no), Sri Lanka made 309 for five.

It left England needing to make their highest-ever successful chase to go 2-0 up with three matches to play. They could only muster 240 all out.

Cook said: “We fancied chasing, it’s quite a hard ground to defend and a lot of edges can fly downhill. That was part of the reasoning to chase.

“Maybe in hindsight we got it wrong, but the crux of the matter is our skills. The toss didn’t make that much difference, our skills let us down at times.”

Cook bemoaned the lack of a player with the sticking power of Jayawardene. He said: “All of the top six got in but none of us did a Mahela to get us close to their score. The positive is that we all got in and got a score but the negative is that none of us went on to get that match-winning hundred. I think Mahela did take risks but he executed them better than us.”