ENGLAND recovered from 36-4 to beat Sri Lanka by five wickets in the second Twenty20 and win the series with a game to spare.
After a 40-minute rain break at 69-4, the hosts completed a revised chase of 103 with 11 balls remaining in Cardiff.
Liam Livingstone finished 29 not out after Sam Billings – his partner in a fifth-wicket stand of 54 – fell for 24.
Sri Lanka earlier limped to 111-7, with Kusal Mendis making 39 and Mark Wood taking 2-18 and Adil Rashid 2-24.
Although England were not as ruthless as in Wednesday’s eight-wicket triumph, victory was rarely in doubt after they limited Sri Lanka to the lowest total they have conceded in a T20.
Livingstone – batting at six rather than the opening spot he occupies for Lancashire – and Billings had lifted England ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern target by the time rain arrived, and Sam Curran capped a successful 24 hours for England with a straight six to seal the win.
The final game in the three-match series takes place at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.
England impress with the ball
England made two changes from Wednesday, with Jos Buttler resting a calf strain and David Willey, playing his first T20 international in more than two years, replacing Chris Woakes.
Curran got the early breakthrough as he ran out Danushka Gunathilaka with some nifty footwork, before Avishka Fernando picked out deep square leg.
Mendis and Kusal Perera put on 50 for the third wicket, but it took them nine overs as Sri Lanka became only the 16th team in history not to hit a boundary in the six-over powerplay.
Rashid had Perera, reverse-sweeping, caught at cover before the impressive Mark Wood dismissed Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella in successive balls.
Until Isuru Udana hit Chris Jordan for a four and a six in the final over, Mendis was the only Sri Lankan to find the boundary as England fielded superbly.
Billings & Livingstone strengthen World Cup case
England, who chased 130 with the minimum of fuss 24 hours earlier, had to overcome an early wobble with the bat.
Jonny Bairstow, driving ambitiously, was bowled by Binura Fernando in the second over before Dawid Malan was lbw playing back to Dushmantha Chameera.
Malan is the number-one ranked T20 batsmanin the world and averages 48, but he has struggled against India and Sri Lanka and his average this year is 26.50.
Captain Eoin Morgan cut Adana to point and Jason Roy danced down the track to pick out long-on to leave them four down inside seven overs.
Billings and Livingstone, who are likely competing for one slot in England’s squad for the T20 World Cup due to take place in India in October, showed maturity to calm England’s nerves.
Both manoeuvred the ball before the rain delay, then broke the back of the revised target of 34 from six overs with a boundary apiece.
Although Billings was bowled as he looked to cut Wanindu Hasaranga, Curran’s sprightly unbeaten 16 off eight deliveries made sure of victory.
‘We want see guys backing themselves’ – what they said
England captain Eoin Morgan on BBC Two: “Our bowling was right on point. The wicket played similarly to yesterday and batters on both sides struggled to get it away. You want to see batters entertain a bit more, especially with crowds back, but it ended up a good tight game anyway.
“We seemed to lose a wicket every time we took a risk which is a shame, but it was a good partnership between Sam Billings and Liam Livingstone. We want to see guys come in and backing themselves.”
Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur: “It’s about learning from every game and getting better and better as we go along.
“We talked about taking the handbrake off, and we need to be a bit more pro-active, but our batters are learning all the time, especially in these conditions.
“I am excited by the bowling unit and we have a good batting unit in our country. It’s about transferring that to different conditions.”(BBC Sport)