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England v Sri Lanka 2nd ODI, Birmingham – Preview

Sri Lanka keen to keep up improvement, while England will want a better all-round performance

England v Sri Lanka 2nd ODI, Birmingham – Preview   - Cricket News
The euphoria over Liam Plunkett's last-ball six and the resulting tie in the first One-Day International in Trent Bridge is yet to die down, but England and Sri Lanka will have to put that behind them and get ready for the second match on Friday (June 24) in Birmingham.

With seven needed off the last ball, Plunkett smashed Nuwan Pradeep for a six over long-off to secure a sensational tie that looked unlikely at one stage. 

Before Plunkett's last-ball heroics was a stunning rearguard effort led by Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes. England was down and out at 82 for 6 chasing 287 but the two triggered a stunning comeback with a 138-run stand for the seventh wicket, before Plunkett finished with a cameo. It was the perfect start to the five-match series. 

But as much as England would be pleased with the Woakes-Buttler-Plunkett show, the team would be disappointed with the efforts of the top-order batsmen. Only two of its top seven, Eoin Morgan (43) and Buttler, got into the double-digits as Sri Lanka's pacers ran riot. England would not want a repeat of that as jail-breaks don't happen too often, something its captain is well aware of.

"The general performance was poor – bat, ball, field, was really rusty," said Morgan after the first game. "Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett have got us out of a hole at the end. We’ve got confidence with the guys coming in anywhere down past seven and eight, but we don’t want to leave them too much to do."

England will probably have the momentum but Sri Lanka should be pleased with its all-round effort on Tuesday. It adapted to English conditions through the three-Test series, despite losing 0-2, the results of which showed in the convincing 2-0 sweep of Ireland in Dublin. 
Sri Lanka would also be slightly happier as it had more contributors in the first match. While the likes of Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal got starts, Angelo Mathews fought it through and came up with a well made 73. Seekkuge Prasanna followed up his 46-ball 95 against Ireland with another blitzkrieg (59 off 28) while Farvez Maharoof (31) too came up with some vital runs down the order.

But one big concern for Sri Lanka ahead of the second game is its captain's fitness. Mathews walked off the field with a hamstring strain after bowling six overs and will be assessed on Wednesday if he's battle-ready. Mathews's potential absence will be a big blow considering he held Sri Lanka together with a patient 73 and also picked up two wickets.

The result and nature of the first ODI showed how closely fought the limited-overs leg of the tour is likely to be. If the teams can maintain the same intensity, Friday too could witness another tight contest.

Teams (from)
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Upul Tharanga, Dhananjaya de Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Farveez Maharoof, Suraj Randiv, Seekkuge Prasanna.

England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes.

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