Manchester, Jul 9: England clinched a 16-run victory over Sri Lanka in the fifth ODI on Saturday to win the series 3-2.
The hosts batted first and posted a total of 268 from their 50 overs at the cost of nine wickets with Jonathan Trott top-scoring with 72 while spinner Suraj Randiv claimed five wickets for the tourists.
England replaced Stuart Broad with Samit Patel on a spin-friendly pitch in Manchester, and the hosts held their composure to bowl Sri Lanka out for 252 in the 49th over of their reply despite a late rally by Angelo Mathews following a sluggish start.
It was a clinical victory for Alastair Cook and Andy Flower's side in a format in which their form has been patchy to say the least in recent years but, with India to pose an even stiffer challenge later in the summer this represents an encouraging, if not emphatic, mark of progress.
Trott - later named the man of the match - shared an important stand of 108 with Eoin Morgan as the pair scored 72 and 57 respectively to ensure England posted a testing target for the tourists amid a faltering collective showing with the bat.
Craig Kieswetter and Alastair Cook's stand of 85 had come up in under 13 overs as Sri Lanka contributed to their own struggles early on with shoddy, indifferent bowling. Captain Tillakaratne Dilshan set the tone with a shambolic spell opening the bowling with his spin, and it took the tourists until the 12th over to finally strike as they capitalised on England's decision to enforce their batting powerplay very early.
Ian Bell contrived to chip a catch just within the reach of Nuwan Kulasekara at wide long-on to fall for just four, but England had a solid 40-over foundation of 228 for five.
Trott was dismissed fortuitously by Randiv as the number three mis-pulled a seemingly innocuous delivery on to his body and back down on to his stumps as the off-spinner completed a maiden five-wicket haul. Patel, Bresnan and Swann fell in quick succession as England rather stumbled to the 50 over mark, but they had posted a testing total nonetheless.
Sri Lanka's reply laboured to 72 for three in 15 overs as Bresnan dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne in his first over, with the debutant opener edging some width to slip. That was followed up when Dilshan hooked straight to long-leg in the Yorkshireman's second over.
Jade Dernbach ought to have held a patently comfortable catch in the same position when Mahela Jayawardene clipped Bresnan tamely off his legs and into the air, but there was relief for the Surrey Brown Cap as the Sri Lanka stalwart played another uncharacteristically slack shot straight to James Anderson at mid-off.
With the score at 29 for three, the onus was firmly on Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal to haul their side out of the mire, which they duly did for a fleeting period.
Chandimal unfurled his usual array of belligerent shots, but was eventually lured down the wicket by Graeme Swann with Kieswetter completing the stumping as the batsman fell for 54.
Sangakkara fell shortly afterwards as Bresnan claimed his third wicket, with England's jubilant celebrations demonstrating how vaunted the number three's talents remain: it was a key breakthrough.
Mathews and Jeevan Mendis confounded the hosts in their pursuit of further immediate wickets, and the pair staged the highest Sri Lanka sixth-wicket partnership against England in the format of 102. But Mendis was finally dismissed by Patel for 48 with Pietersen taking a steepling catch, before the wickets of Kulasekara and Randiv swiftly followed as England suddenly found a clinical edge.
Mathews's valiant knock came to an abrupt end as he sliced an exquisitely-disguised slower ball from Dernbach into the air, then Malinga was emphatically clean bowled by the seamer as England claimed victory with 10 balls England to spare.