Adil Rashid, the man of the hour

Rashid & Morgan drive England to 2-0 in rain-shortened affair

SL v Eng, 3rd ODI, report

Hit For Six!
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England powered to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the rain-reduced third ODI in Pallekele.

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In a match of 21 overs a side, England chased down their 151-run victory target with nine balls to spare, a wet ball making bowling a challenge.

In-form England captain Eoin Morgan (58* off 49) became the first England captain to score back-to-back ODI fifties in Sri Lanka. He and Ben Stokes (35* off 24) guided England to their target comfortably, with Stokes lifting an effortless six down the ground to finish the match in style.

Jason Roy had given the chase an ideal start for England. The right-hand opener capitalised on a horrific first over from an out-of-sorts Lasith Malinga. It went for 17 – starting with a pair of wides followed by a big six over mid-wicket – putting Roy in just the mood to spank 40 in 25 balls. Jonny Bairstow chipped to mid-off off the spin of Amila Aponso (replacing Lakshan Sandakan) in the second over, and in the fourth – Aponso’s second – Joe Root was bowled off the pad.

That represented a decent comeback from Sri Lanka but by the time Roy was out – lbw following an initially hopeful-looking Sri Lankan review to Akila Dananjaya – in the ninth over, they were over halfway there and there were few alarms to follow.

The teams had spent much of the day watching the rain fall before finally – with time running out to produce a legitimate match – the bad weather relented long enough to get a 21-over match underway. Morgan won the toss and opted to bowl, a decision with whch Sri Lanka were perfectly happy; Dinesh Chandimal wanted to bat anyway.

Stokes & Morgan walked off with the series at 2-0
Stokes & Morgan walked off with the series at 2-0

Sri Lanka’s openers Niroshan Dickwella and Sadeera Samarawickrama – replacing the injured Kusal Perera – embraced the freedom afforded by the shortened format and got off to a bit of a flyer on what remained a speedy outfield. Chris Woakes and Olly Stone struggled to find a line and length that could restrict their strokeplay. Dickwella in particular was in stunning form, timing everything he touched and hitting eight boundaries in his 36. 

The introduction of Tom Curran (3/17 from four), who replaced the injured Liam Dawson, and, after one over from Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid (4/36 from five) turned things in England’s favour. Dickwella was juggled but caught by Woakes off Curran and Mendis was clean bowled for a golden duck by a lovely googly from Adil Rashid in the next over. That somewhat killed the Sri Lankan momentum, and though Chandimal and Samarawickrama were together for six overs, they were absorbing pressure rather than applying it, managing just 35 runs in that spell. 

Tom Curran did a fine job with the ball for his captain
Tom Curran did a fine job with the ball for his captain

Thisara Perera obviously thought urgent action was required, promptly attempting smash Rashid into the stands first ball and finding only Jason Roy in the deep. With the score 94/4, seven and a half overs remaining and little batting pedigree to come, Chandimal was becalmed, and was out for just 34 off 42 balls before being caught in Curran’s final over. Dasun Shanaka injected some much-needed urgency, hitting a pair of sixes and a four for his 10-ball 21, but ultimately Sri Lanka were unable to capitalise on their strong start and England were never worried by the total set.

The visitors showed again their depth and versatility; with Moeen bowling just one over, cover was provided by Stokes, who bowled four for 21 runs, and the variations of Curran – by no means a certainty for inclusion in next year’s World Cup – proved a decisive factor in the Sri Lankan innings. They are now 2-0 up after three in this five-match series.

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