Triumph for Cook at a cost

Alastair Cook plays a shot as Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara watches

Alastair Cook plays a shot as Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara watches

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England left the south Sri Lankan jungle with a win under their belts at last but almost certainly in search of a new captain to deputise for Alastair Cook in their next match.

Cook was indebted to half-centuries from his opening partner Moeen Ali (58) and then Jos Buttler (55no) in an unbroken stand of 84 with Joe Root as England chalked up a five-wicket victory with eight balls to spare in pursuit of a Duckworth-Lewis target of 236 in the third one-day international.

They therefore head back to Colombo just 2-1 down, with four to play, and feasible prospects after all of delivering Cook’s first ODI series victory in his last six attempts.

Yet even as England celebrated back at the team hotel, after the latest of finishes, it was clear the likelihood is that Cook will hear confirmation of his one-match ban for a tardy over rate in the rain-shortened match – to add to a similar transgression at Cardiff last summer.

It is far from clear who can step into Cook’s shoes back in the capital because, of the two obvious contenders, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan, one has just been dropped and the other is in a miserable run of form.

Cook at least could be happy with an overdue win which might yet kick-start England’s World Cup winter.

“It is just great to get one on the board, and to be back in the series,” he said.

“I don’t think we played our best but to get over the line, after not doing that in the first two, will give the lads a lot of confidence.

“I think a side full of confidence, and winning a lot, would probably have found it a bit easier than we did.

“In an absolute ideal world, we’d have cruised it with two or three down.

“On that wicket, we probably should have 
done.

“You probably saw a side not used to winning on this tour,” added their captain.