Sri Lanka’s unfortunate tour of England ended with lakes forming in the gardens and a gaggle of vigorous spectators chanting Sweet Caroline in the rain, the visitors having avoided a sixth consecutive defeat despite another immature collapse.
For Eoin Morgan’s hosts it meant a 2-0 win in the ODI series after a 3-0 win in the equally one-sided Twenty20s; If the skies hadn’t opened after shooting Sri Lanka 166 in 42 overs – Tom Curran had four of 35 and two apiece for Chris Woakes and David Willey – a clean sweep would surely have followed.
Pakistan is next for England, with three ODIs starting in Cardiff on Thursday followed by three more T20s. Babar Azam’s men should offer a tougher and more instructive test, particularly in the shorter format during what is a World Cup year, and frankly they will have a hard time performing much worse.
“It has been a difficult tour for us,” admitted Sri Lanka captain Kusal Perera after the game was abandoned at 4.15pm. “We performed well on the patches, but it wasn’t enough. We need to focus on our hitting. “
Morgan added: “Today we were dominant and we are delighted because we were ruthless. That’s been the trend in the T20I and ODI – the guys haven’t taken things for granted. “
There had been worrisome noises coming from Sri Lanka even before the tour began, a contract dispute between the players and the board that suggests their approach may be compromised. When three senior players returned home for violating biosecurity rules last week, any semblance of competition disappeared.
The result was three successive blowouts with the bat in the 50-plus leg of the tour, the last of which was summed up in its dire conclusion: Asitha Fernando, number 11, found herself in the same finish as Dasun Shanaka, the best. scorer with 48 no out, while a jolly Jonny Bairstow hit the zing bails 22 yards away for the simplest of outings.
This was the fifth layoff that involved Bairstow in the middle of a good performance with the gloves. The highlight was a superb low-right reflex capture to knock out Tom Curran’s Chamika Karunaratne, closely followed by a clever punch when his Yorkshire teammate Adil Rashid cheated on Dushmantha Chameera.
Tourists had been hanging around the drain for a long time when these two smugglers perished, Morgan had avoided the thoughts of experimentation when he made just one change on the XI (Woakes coming for Mark Wood) and ruthlessly asked Kusal once more. To do it. a bat after winning the toss.
Many in the crowd of 7,500 may have wondered why Morgan did not seek to stretch his men by going against their preference to chase. However, since ODIs count towards World Cup qualification, this format remains a results-driven business despite ranking third on England’s priority list.
What followed was another display of new-ball excellence from Woakes and Willey, the pair reducing Sri Lanka to 42 from four in the ninth inning. The batter’s error helped, especially Dhananjaya de Silva, fresh from 91 at the Oval, beating a range hook to Woakes’ long leg, but the better sides would have struggled.
While Woakes’ class is long established, his two matches produced six wickets and eight maidens from 20 sent overs, Willey’s latest comeback is notable. He led the charts with nine wickets in Sri Lanka’s three innings and while Pathum Nissanka will regret its expansive momentum, the elimination of Avishka Fernando lbw in review was a classic dismissal of a left arm.
From there he moved on to the older of the two Currans, Tom responding to Sam’s five-course run of the week with the second-best figures of his career at ODI and at a time when he was beginning to drift to the periphery.
Oshada Fernando finished with a promising 18 when he moved to the middle and Wanindu Hasaranga repeated De Silva’s exit for 20. Binura Fernando and Karunaratne lagged behind, with Curran within a mustache of making a five by beating Chameera’s bat in his final. on.
For the second game underway, Moeen Ali failed to get Morgan’s attention on the field and when a rain break, with Sri Lanka at 132 of eight, was followed by a terminal downpour between innings, he was among the hitters left frustrated. .
So does Joe Root, who is 22 runs away from surpassing Alastair Cook (15,737) as England’s leading run scorer in all three international formats combined. Like the rest of us who hope to witness a decent competition, the captain of the test will have to wait for the next meeting with Pakistan.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism