England were unable to pull off a second successive chase against Twenty20 world champions Sri Lanka, and succumbed to a nine-run defeat in the one-off NatWest international at The Oval.
The high point of England’s otherwise unsuccessful ICC World Twenty20 trip to Bangladesh two months ago came when Alex Hales’ unbeaten hundred inspired them to victory over Sri Lanka in a group match - the only defeat of the entire campaign for their opponents.
But as England’s new regime seeks early momentum, following their post-Ashes management reshuffle, it was not quite the night - despite Hales’ best efforts again with 66 at the top of the order.
In feasible but testing pursuit 183 for seven - in which Thisara Perera rode his luck to top-score for the tourists with 49 from 20 balls - Hales kept England just about in it until he went to Lasith Malinga (three for 28) in the 17th over. Sheffield’s Joe Root could only make five.
England had restricted the tourists effectively, for the most part, after Eoin Morgan chose to bowl on a cloudy evening - with Twenty20 debutant seamer Harry Gurney the pick of the attack.