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Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 18:39 GMT
England claim vital victory
Nick Knight
Knight's set England on the way with a fine 88
VB Series, Adelaide:
England 279-7 (50 overs) beat Sri Lanka 260 all out (49.2 overs) by 19 runs

England took a giant step towards qualifying for the VB Series finals with a brave 19-run win over Sri Lanka in Adelaide.

Nick Knight continued his irrepressible form to strike 88 and Alec Stewart chipped in with a half-century as England posted 279 for seven.

It was a target too great for Sri Lanka and they were dismissed for 260 in the final over of the day.

England now need only to deny Australia a bonus point on Sunday to book a spot in the best-of-three finals against the hosts.

Andy Caddick
Caddick showed the benefit of his experience

But the win came at a cost with Steve Harmison injuring his ankle and leaving the field after conceding 27 runs in two overs.

Andy Caddick took four for 35 - including the late wicket of Kumar Sangakkara for 56 - to prop up an otherwise profligate display from his colleagues, with James Anderson conceding 54 runs from his seven overs.

Sri Lanka were left to count the cost of a major blunder that saw skipper Sanath Jayasuriya run out for 99 - a blow which turned the match in England's favour.

Sri Lanka were on top at the midway point of their chase with their skipper almost single-handedly steering them to 158 for four.

But their hopes were dashed when a mid-pitch collision with his batting partner saw him fall to Nasser Hussain's direct hit.

VB Series table
Australia P6 W5 L1 BP2 Pts27 RR0.66
England P7 W3 L4 BP1 Pts19 RR-0.01
Sri Lanka P7 W2 L5 BP1 Pts14 RR-0.57

All eyes at the start of the day were fixed on the return of England's Ashes hero Michael Vaughan, but Knight retained the opener's berth and stole the limelight.

Knight and fellow opener Marcus Trescothick scored at more than six runs per over in the early exchanges after England won the toss and batted.

The pair put on 50 by the ninth over, with Trescothick contributing 38.

Nick Knight
Knight survives a stumping during his knock

But the Somerset left-hander was bowled by a delivery from Chamila Gamage that kept low.

His dismissal brought Vaughan to the crease, and he immediately belied his recent absence from the game with an array of fine shots.

But, on 28, he picked the wrong ball to pull and holed out to Chaminda Vaas at mid-wicket.

It heralded a very quiet period as England's frail middle-order struggled despite the absence of Muttiah Muralitharan.

Seventeen overs passed without a boundary as hopes of a 300-plus score faded.

But Stewart came to the rescue with a precious 51 that ensured England would post a total out of their opponents' reach.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Pat Murphy
"With four overs to go Sri Lanka had to be fancied"
England captain Nasser Hussain
"Given the history it was nice to beat them here"
Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore
"Undisciplined cricket cost us once again"
England take on Australia and Sri Lanka

Finals

Group matches

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RESULT/FIXTURES
Links to more Cricket stories are at the foot of the page.


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