Records tumbled all around the Oval on Wednesday, where England’s batsmen put on a fine show to defeat Sri Lanka by six wickets on a gloomy day in South London.
With the both the Test and the ODI segments of the tour wrapped up, the English will be looking to add some gloss to their already impressive start to the summer with another convincing win over the Asians in Cardiff on Saturday.
England vs Sri Lanka | Saturday 2 July | Sophia Gardens | Cardiff | 09:30
To Win Match
England 1/4 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 29/10
While it’s always good fun to watch England’s national sides crash and burn, it’s now time to start taking the English limited overs set-up very seriously. They chased down a massive score if you factor in the eight overs that each side lost after the rain came down in Sri Lanka’s batting innings.
If there was ever a time for Jason Roy to make his mark at international level, it was at the Oval. His opening partner, Alex Hales, was unable to bat following a back spasm, picked up while out in the field, just before the rain came down. Roy’s magnificent 162 – the second highest ODI score ever made by an English player – set the hosts up beautifully in their pursuit of Sri Lanka’s 305.
Roy smashed 13 fours and three sixes as he singlehandedly knocked the wind out of the Sri Lankan attack’s sails. He would ultimately fall with just 27 needed to win, however, at that point the job had already been done and it was left to Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler to see the hosts home.
While the batting display was exemplary on a fairly benign pitch, the English bowlers will need to do a bit of soul-searching. Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes consistently missed their lines and lengths while David Willey found absolutely zero swing as the seamers battled with the damp ball.
Adil Rashid is the only bowler who really stood out for me as he continued his incredible rise following success in the KFC Big Bash as well as the English national set-ups this year. His variations were magnificent and he invited the opposition batsmen to attack him by taking all the pace off the ball. This tactic paid off five balls after the resumption of play as Kusal Mendis attempted to take the Rashid on only the slice the ball to Liam Plunkett in the covers who took a simple enough catch.
Looking ahead, the English really shouldn’t have too many issues dealing with the Sri Lankan threat in Wales. While their bowling attack leaves a lot to be desired, their batting line-up is nothing short of phenomenal. Any side that can bat someone with Rashid’s pinch-hitting ability at 10 will always be capable of posting as well as chasing down massive targets – expect the English batsmen to be the difference again on Saturday.
While the Sri Lankans have now effectively lost the ODI segment of the series, they can hold their heads up high. The Islanders have been a lot more competitive than a lot of punters and pundits – myself included – thought that they would be.
They’ve been excellent with bat in hand, especially when you consider the massive void left behind by the absence of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who missed out on the series through injury. The slack has been admirably picked up by Angelo Matthews, Denesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis who have managed 240, 214 and 147 runs respectively so far.
Those are some fantastic numbers considering the amount of flak the side caught after some remarkably average batting displays in the Test segment of the tour where you just knew that there was a collapse around every corner.
Graham Ford might have expected a little bit more from his bowling attack in the ODI segment of the series, where only Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep have experienced very limited success. Of course, their cause hasn’t been helped by injuries and players having been pulled for suspect actions.
They’ll do well to remain competitive in the last game of the series before the one-off T20 which is due to take place this coming Tuesday. They find themselves very much in a transitional phase at the moment and have accomplished much more than many would have expected. Sadly though, I just don’t see them beating the English come Saturday.
Verdict: England 1/4
While this is an ever-improving Sri Lankan squad, I simply don’t think they can beat the English in the UK. Trevor Bayliss’ men are on top of their game at the moment and should have very little trouble overcoming the dogged islanders.
Value Bet: Kusal Mendis to Top Score for Sri Lanka at 5/1
Mendis has been the only Sri Lankan batsmen to look comfortable against the English in both the longer and shorter formats of the game. He was full value for his 77 in the last ODI and probably would have gone on to score a lot more had the rain not come down and curtailed all of his momentum. Back him here at generous odds of 5/1.