Controversy took hold at Edgbaston after Sri Lanka's Sachithra Senanayake angered the crowd by running out golden boy Jos Buttler in questionable circumstances as England scrambled 219 all out in the Royal London Series decider.
Senanayake incurred the wrath of the Birmingham spectators by running out Buttler at the non-striker’s end as he backed up out of his ground — albeit after twice warning him in his previous over for pinching yards.
It is a legitimate mode of dismissal, but one often frowned upon and rarely enforced.
Buttler’s status as England’s man-of-the-moment after his brilliant maiden international hundred at Lord’s, and Senanayake’s as a controversial figure since he was reported for a suspect action in the same match, only added to the jeers.
The unusual incident — captains more often call batsmen back in such instances, but Angelo Mathews chose not to — came in the 43rd over of an otherwise unremarkable innings in which England struggled for a par score on an apparently awkward pitch.
Alastair Cook’s hard-working 56 at the top of the order, after he had won the toss, was comfortably the major contribution of a patchy performance.
England’s top six all got out disappointingly after promising starts.
Cook and Ian Bell’s opening stand of 75 ended when the latter, who had already had one escape on 18 from a mistimed shot to midwicket off Nuwan Kulasekara which should have been caught by Mahela Jayawardene, poked a return catch back to Ajantha Mendis.
That was the last act of the batting powerplay, England adopting a complete change of tactics by taking it between overs 10 and 15 and banking 30 for one for their trouble.
Bell’s was the first of a series of soft dismissals which could be interpreted perhaps as the combined products of batsman error and a slow surface.
Gary Ballance also pushed a simple catch back to the bowler, Lasith Malinga this time with the first delivery of his second spell; then Joe Root and Cook both went caught-behind to variations of the sweep, the Yorkshireman gloving a reverse straight up in the air off Ashan Priyanjan and his captain later looping an orthodox version gently over his shoulder off Senanayake.
Cook’s departure was a particularly anti-climactic after he lost all momentum on reaching his 50, his last six runs eating up 16 balls.
Ravi Bopara’s response was a manic start, in which he narrowly escaped a stumping first ball and would have been run-out for three with a direct hit.
He also called Eoin Morgan for an impossible single — and although the Irishman regained his ground, he went next ball to a mistimed pull into the deep off Mathews.
Bopara’s own departure was a comical exaggeration of England’s difficulties throughout, when he set himself to pull Mendis but instead contrived to be bowled through his legs as the ball failed to get to him in time for his intended shot.
It all meant England's habitual six-hitters Buttler and Chris Jordan had to join forces earlier than hoped, at 176 for six in the 38th over.
They were beginning to gather a little purpose when Buttler's unusual dismissal occurred — and after Jordan was run out more conventionally via a mix-up with James Anderson, England were eventually all out with almost two overs unused.