Sri Lanka beat England by 90 runs in the sixth one-day international at Pallekele on Saturday to take an unbeatable 4-2 lead in their seven-match series.
Kumar Sangakkara completed his 20th one-day international century to help the home team post a healthy total of 292 for seven.
England could only muster 202 in reply, bowled out in less than 42 overs despite a resilient 55 from Joe Root.
The evergreen Sangakkara blazed 112 off as many balls, highlighted by 12 fours and two sixes, after the 37-year-old was dropped on 41 by England captain Alastair Cook.
The Sri Lankans made a slow start, scoring just 27 runs off the first 10 overs, before Sangakkara opened up, putting on 153 with Tillakaratne Dilshan for the second wicket.
Dilshan made a patient 68 before Dinesh Chandimal pushed the total towards 300 with a brisk 35 in the closing overs.
Chris Woakes, Steven Finn and Chris Jordan captured two wickets each for England, who needed to win the game to square the series heading into Tuesday’s final match in Colombo.
“It was a challenging wicket to bat on,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said.
“I thought Sangakkara was amazing and set the tone for the batsman to play at the end.
“He and Dilshan set the tone. We still want to win the next game as well and win the series 5-2.”
England could hardly had made a worse start to their innings when Cook was dismissed lbw for one in the first over.
By the 18th over, England were in deep trouble at 84 for five and although Root completed a half-century and Woakes chipped in with 41, the tourists never came close to challenging Sri Lanka’s total as Suranga Lakmal mopped up the tail to finish with 4 for 30.
“For the first 20-odd overs we bowled really well, but it didn’t help me dropping Sangakkara,” said Cook.
“It was a real big catch to drop because we’d built up some good pressure, but credit to Kumar, he made us pay today.”
Cook’s World Cup captaincy in doubt
Alastair Cook’s role as England captain for next year’s World Cup was cast into doubt when head coach Peter Moores said his position would be reviewed after the team’s current one-day series in Sri Lanka.
Cook was last week named as skipper of a provisional 30-man squad for next year’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand but has continued to cut a beleaguered figure at the helm of the one-day side.
The 29-year-old has averaged under 18 with the bat as the tourists slipped to a 4-2 series defeat in Sri Lanka with one game remaining.
“We review everything at the end of every series, we’ve always said that,” Moores told Sky Sports when asked if Cook would be captain at the World Cup.
“We make no bones that we’re passionate to try and get our best side to go out and win a World Cup. Cook needs runs but he’s also had some great times as an England player. He’s in a tough patch at the moment but that’s something he’s working hard to get out of.”
Cook’s performance during England’s 90-run defeat in the sixth one-dayer on Saturday typified the form that has led to a growing number of critics question his captaincy and his place in the team.
He dropped a routine catch off Kumar Sangakkara, on 41 at the time, and the left-hander went on to make a game-changing 112. The England captain scored just one run before succumbing to the second ball he faced.
Cook still believes he is the man to lead the side for the Tri-Series against Australia and India in January and the World Cup.
“We came into today with some high hopes so it’s been a frustrating day all round, and days like these don’t make the job any easier,” Cook said.
“Not scoring the runs I’d like is not a great place to be as a captain. You want to lead from the front and when it’s not happening for you it’s incredibly frustrating. I’m a better player than I’ve shown at the moment and I’ve just got to keep going.”