LONDON — Kumar Sangakkara smashed an unbeaten 134 off 135 balls as Sri Lanka stunned England by seven wickets in a high-scoring cricket thriller on Thursday to stay afloat in the Champions Trophy.
The Islanders, chasing England’s seemingly impregnable 293 for seven, launched a spirited chase in the day-night game at The Oval to surpass the target in 47.1 overs and throw open the semifinal race from group A.
Sri Lanka, who would have been knocked out of the tournament had they lost, are now level with England on two points each, one behind group leaders New Zealand.
Australia, the fourth team in the group, have one point.
The two semifinal spots will be determined after the last round of matches when England take on New Zealand in Cardiff tomorrow and Sri Lanka clash with Australia at the Oval on Monday.
Left-handed Sangakkara, cheered on by a big Sri Lankan contingent in the packed stands, anchored the chase with his 15th one-day hundred that was studded with 12 boundaries.
Pinch-hitter Nuwan Kulasekara, who was sent in at the fall of the third wicket, hit a quickfire 58 not out during a match-winning partnership of 110 from 71 balls with Sangakkara.
Kulasekara, who had two previous one-day half-centuries to his credit, plundered five fours and three sixes that demoralised the England attack.
Seamer James Anderson claimed two wickets, but Stuart Broad went for 67 runs in 8.1 overs and Tim Bresnan gave away 63 runs in 10 overs.
“We needed this win to be honest,” said Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews, who had called for an improved batting display after his team were shot out for 138 by New Zealand.
“Except for that final over from Eranga, our bowlers came back well on a pitch that played really well. And then Sangakkara batted so well. Its great to have a player like that at number three. The management decided to promote Kulasekara because he had been batting well. And it paid off.”