Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis grabbed three for 33 as England were skittled for 185 in 43 overs after electing to bat in a match reduced to 45-overs-a-side because of bad weather.
The veteran duo of Kumar Sangakkara (67 not out) and Mahela Jayawardene (77 not out) then put on 149 for the unbroken third wicket as Sri Lanka romped home with 10.4 overs to spare at the Premadasa stadium.
Sri Lanka had won the first game by 25 runs at the same venue on Wednesday. The third match will be played in Hambantota on December 3.
Both teams wore black arm-bands and observed a minute’s silence before the start to mourn Australian batsman Phil Hughes, who died in Sydney on Thursday of head injuries sustained by a rising ball.
Bats and caps were displayed outside the dressing rooms as a mark of respect and flags flew at half-mast over the stadium.
Ravi Bopara top-scored with 51 and Joe Root made 42, but just eight boundaries were hit in the entire England innings as none of the other batsmen settled in.
– Mendis leads the way –
Mendis led the way as the slow bowlers shared six wickets and the seamers chipped in with four wickets.
England lost half their side by the 28th over with just 117 runs on the board.
Opener Moeen Ali, who hit a century in the previous match, made only two when he attempted a wild heave off Tillakaratne Dilshan and was bowled in the second over.
Ian Bell, playing his 150th one-day international, was dismissed by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for 11 and Dilshan also removed skipper Alastair Cook for 22.
Mathews was delighted with the emphatic win.
“It feels great,” he said. “The bowlers did the job and then Mahela (Jayawardene) and Sanga (Sangakkara) showed how to bat on this wicket.”
Mathews said he handed the new ball to off-spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan to take advantage of the slow pitch. The move worked as Dilshan easily removed his strong opponent Ali.
“Our fielding has picked up a little bit but we can still improve,” he said.
Sri Lanka lost both openers, Dilshan and Kusal Perera, by the eighth over with the total at 37 before Sangakkara and Jayawardene steadied the innings for the hosts.
Left-handed Sangakkara smashed eight boundaries, including the winning hit off Harry Gurney over the bowler’s head. Jayawardene hit eight fours and a six.
A disappointed Cook admitted his side were outplayed in the match, but vowed to bounce back in the series.
“We thought it was a good toss to win but I’m not sure it (decision to bat) was the right choice,” he said. “Sri Lanka totally outplayed us in all departments today.
“We assessed the pitch wrong but it’s about how you play and Sri Lanka put us under pressure with the ball.
“It’s been a tough few days. We have had no practice time due to the weather. But it will be good to get out of Colombo and have a fresh start. We’ve got some good players and we can bounce back.”
The series is a build-up to the World Cup that will be played in Australia and New Zealand in February-March. -AFP